Seasonal scammers: Anti-Fraud Convention offers holiday protection tips

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – One business that always seems to find a way to survive is that of scammers.

And you had better believe that they’re getting geared up for the holiday season, too.

Scams are already going up like Christmas lights. But some people in the community are working to make sure their neighbors don’t fall for them.

Mail scams, telephone scams, and charity scams are quite common these days. And these scams are all designed to trick people into giving their money and all of it. Unfortunately, it’s often senior citizens who are the most vulnerable targets of these scams.

“The attackers are really after them,” Chief Technology Officer for Citizens National Bank Shane Callahan said.

According to the most recent AARP study, an estimated $28.3 billion is lost to elder fraud scams each year. And Callahan said this number keeps growing.

“They have a big heart, and they know that they are vulnerable, and they know what to say to them to actually get them to do whatever they need to gain access to their funds,” Callahan said.

With the help of Artificial Intelligence or AI, Callahan said scamming elders has gotten even craftier.

“They can even change to sound like a Southern drawl. They can make it sound like it is a very local community, whatever community they are in, and it can look like it can come from them. It is helping the scammers by cleaning up a lot of the red flags that you used to be able to look for,” Callahan said.

Event organizer and Pastor of New Salem Baptist Church Mel Howton said that now we are in the holiday season, he wants his congregation and others to beware.

“Charities fraud because so many people, especially this time of the year, are contacted by criminals who are posing as legit charities and stealing money from people,” Howton said.

“Unfortunately, it is a terrible thing, but it is real, and it’s prevalent, ” Howton said.

It’s always a good idea to be cautious when it comes to giving out personal information over the phone, especially to unknown numbers or institutions. If you’re ever in doubt, it’s a good idea to call someone close to you to verify. And remember, never give in to pressure. You always have the right to say no.

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