2021 Holiday Thefts

These are the Best of Times; These are the Worst of Times. It is wonderful when the holidays bring out the best in people who GIVE to others and help feed the poor. However, some see the holidays as an opportunity to TAKE  from others.

This taking can occur when groups of 70 enter a Nordstrom and ransack it in both Northern California and the LA. Grove. However, during the holidays there are those that take advantage and pull SCAMS…especially on the elderly. Thus, the Coachella Valley is a prime target location for scammers who may do the following:

Contact Tracer:

Beware of phony Contact Tracers who pretend they are gathering info about Covid 19, and ask for money or information that can steal your identity or your money. They may request social security numbers, financial info, money immigration status etc. All of these may be necessary for authentic contact tracing, however, they pray on the elderly in the CV. If you are not sure of the legality, contact our local health department to verify that the caller or message is from a valid tracer.

Dogs in Demand:

With Covid 19 causing us all to stay indoors, the need for companionship has never been greater. The demand is so great that some shelters have stopped accepting applications from those want to foster animals, and breeders say the waitlist for puppies has skyrocketed.

The problem is that demand like this brings out scammers.

Some have set up phony websites and fake advertisements for dogs that don’t exist. Often they want payment up front and never ship the animal they claim to have. This is not to different from the scammers that advertise to rent homes/rooms for Coachella and the tennis tournaments. They get the money and do not produce or have what they promised. However, these pet scams are not only risky but tear at the heartstrings of those in need of love or a companion.

Grandparent Scam:

There are many of these. Sometimes it is your alleged grandchild or someone calling on their behalf because they have been arrested or in an accident. Maybe your grandchild fell ill or was injured and was taken to the hospital or jail and needs money. Contact is typically by phone but could come by email or mail. The story will be convincing. They even give the phone number to a partner claiming s/he is a doctor, police officer or lawyer…who needs money.

To protect yourself ask questions that only your grandchild could answer. This could be their first pet or where they went to school.

Disaster Request for Money:

We all want to help one another during a disaster. This could be an earthquake or even our Covid Pandemic, where they ask you for money to help your neighbors. The scammer may impersonate a government agency that offers to help, but first demands an inspection fee. Sometimes it is just a contractor showing up without an appointment offering to do work on the spot…but only if you pay up front.

Covid Test Offered for Money:

A robocall might direct you to a website that looks like a clinic or medical supply company that offers Covid help. This might be supplies or testing etc. They ask you to fill out a form and have you pay up front with a credit card.

Scam of Elders:

Elders are more vulnerable, and susceptibility increases with age. The elderly are more susceptible to investment fraud and romance scams. This results in victims losing thousands of dollars. There are new scams that occur when the government is sending out stimulus checks and the scammer contacts the consumer to offer to get the money more rapidly with the payment of a fee.

Phishing Scams:

Scammers may claim to be from a governmental agency or offer IT support or claim the computer has a virus which will be fixed for a reasonable sum. They may tell you the computer may crash if certain work is not performed…for a sum of money.

Before you agree to a company, either a known or unknown one, you should check AVVO and their website for reviews. Be sure the company you are talking to is the company that will make the move. If you think you have been taken, go to www.protectyourmove.gov. Research a charity before donating; www.charitynavigator.org and www.give.org are two good resources.

If you paid for a product through any scam sites, report it to your bank, credit card company and the sites below:

Inspector General 1-800-269-0271 or via https://oig.ssa.gov/report.

Fraud alert hotline:  855 303 9470 or http://www.aging.senate.gov/fraud-hotline

FTC ID Theft Hotline 877 ID Theft/ www.consumer.gov/idtheft

SS hotline 800 269 0271/www.ssa.gov/oig

Equifax: 800 525 6285/ www.equifax.com

Experian: 888 397 3742/ www.experian.com

Transunion: 800 680 7289/ www.transunion.com


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