help parents navigate their online finances

With all the recent frauds and scams in the last few years, I try to safeguard my child’s use on the internet and her identity. My daughter trusts the internet and its information because it is part of her world and she has had only controlled access. As she grows and uses more and more technology, it is my responsibility as a parent to help protect her from the fraudsters, scammers and predators.

As I read more and more information about fraud and scams, I noticed the largest population of victims is senior citizens. I realized how vulnerable my parents and in-laws are to these scams and frauds that are primarily orchestrated on the internet, but also on the phone and by mail. My friends have shared numerous stories of how their parents have almost been taken in by scammers, especially when it comes to medical insurance.

The Federal Trade Commission has a wonderful website that I have shared with friends to help them make their parents aware of how the scams work.

Here are 10 ways the FTC recommends deterring fraud:

Know who you’re dealing with

Look on-line for the company website, address and phone number. Look for reviews to help you make a decision if this is a reputable company and offer.

Wiring money is like sending cash

It is a red flag when sellers insist you wire money, especially overseas. There is no way to receive a refund of this money.

Review your monthly statements

If you see charges you don’t recognize or didn’t okay, contact us, the card issuer, or other creditor immediately.

Give only to established charities, especially after a disaster

There are many “charities” that pop-up after a disaster. Most of the time, they are either fraudulent or ineffective. For more tips on donating, check out ftc.gov/charityfraud.

Talk to your doctor before you buy health products or treatments

Buy prescription drugs only from licensed U.S. pharmacies so you don’t receive products that could be dangerous to your health. Learn more about buying health products online.

Remember there’s no sure thing in investing

If someone contacts you with low-risk, high-return investment opportunities, stay away.

Don’t send money to someone you don’t know

It’s best to do business with sites and people you know and trust. Consider using a payment option that provides protection, like a credit card.

Never pay fees first for the promise of a big pay-off later — whether it’s for a loan, a job, a grant or a so-called prize.

Don’t agree to deposit a check and wire money back

You’re responsible for the checks you deposit. If a check turns out to be a fake, you’re responsible for paying back the bank. No matter how convincing the story, someone who overpays with a check is almost certainly a scam artist.

Don’t reply to messages asking for personal or financial information

It doesn’t matter whether the message comes as an email, a phone call, a text message, or an ad. You must be cautious of links and phone numbers included in the message because a scammer could be behind this correspondence. It’s called phishing.

Don’t play a foreign lottery

It’s illegal to play a foreign lottery. If you get what looks like lottery material from a foreign country through the mail, take it to your local postmaster.

As soon as I hear of new scams, I share this information with my parents and friends. The best way to deter fraud is education. If people know of the scam, they are less likely to become a victim.

If your parents, you or friends feel you have been scammed, report it immediately to the FTC and the state Attorney General.   If you get unsolicited email offers or spam from companies you don’t know, send the messages to spam@uce.gov.

Please share this valuable information with your parents and take time to discuss it. For more resources, visit the FTC’s website. First Commonwealth Federal Credit Union is taking every effort to keep your financial information safe and to share scams and fraud news that may affect you.