When the caller knows a lot about you and your departed loved one, think about where the information might have come from.
Who Is It Targeting: Anyone who’s recently lost a family member
What Is It: A phishing scam that relies on publicly available information
What Are They After: A recently widowed Kentucky resident has a harrowing, twisted story of almost falling for a scam. Shortly after her husband’s death, a caller claiming to be with the VA reached out about his expired life insurance policy. They offered to reinstate the policy and pay the full amount if the widow would simply pay the last two years’ worth of payment on a prepaid gift card.
That raised a red flag, and fortunately, the widow didn’t fall for it. But she did realize that the lengthy phone call and the sympathetic ear from the scammer were all based on information that had been gleaned from the deceased husband’s obituary, the widow’s Facebook page, and other similar public sources.
How Can You Avoid It:
- If you know you’re sharing personal details—such as with an obituary, birth announcement, or other public news—be very mindful of what is included and how someone can use it against you.
- That doesn’t mean “don’t publish an obituary,” but rather, be aware of the people who contact you following an event of this kind.
- Safeguard your Facebook and other social media accounts, ensuring that their privacy settings are as strict as you prefer.
If you think you may be a victim of identity theft, contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at (888) 400-5530.