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Advice & More October 2017

Tips to Avoid Scams and to Enjoy Halloween Safely

By Teresa Ambord

A YouTube video says something like: “Halloween, get this free!” But the video doesn’t lead to free candy to give to children. It leads you to enter personal information and your email address, which scammers then use to steal from you.

Trick-r- Treat!

Halloween is coming up fast. While vampires and zombies aren’t real, crooks willing to take advantage of this holiday are very real. You look forward to seeing the little kids dressed as lions and princesses, but scammers are looking forward to enticing you into their clutches. One way they do it is by offering free Halloween products like candy as bait. And lately, they use social media to do it.

Here’s an example: A YouTube video says something like: “Halloween, get this free!” But the video doesn’t lead to free candy to give to children. It leads you to enter personal information and your email address, which scammers then use to steal from you.

Twitter has also been used to advertise free Halloween candy, with a link they invite you to click. Only instead of providing you with free candy, the link brings up a survey they ask you to take. And of course, the survey just happens to collect personal information they can use.

Similar to the Twitter scam, Facebook has been used to do the same thing. That is, promise free Halloween candy in exchange for taking a survey. But wait! There’s more. The link leads you back to the YouTube scam mentioned above. And when you go to the site, it promises you Apple products if you finish the survey.

We all like freebies, and for people who feel like giving away Halloween candy is a financial stretch, it might be tempting to try to get some for free. In the end, you could lose far more than you get… so avoid the scams.

Here are some more tips from the nation’s safety experts as you decide what to do this Halloween.

Be safe while passing out candy. It can be fun to have little kids come to your door in costume. Generally their parents are with them and they come earlier in the evening. As the evening grows later and darker, older kids may come out (because they see it as “uncool” to go out when the little kids are out). Most teenagers are just out for a little fun, but every group has bad apples, and sometimes those bad apples enjoy scaring people. Here are some points to remember:

  • Keep your porch light on, as well as interior lights. Even if you’ve run out of candy or are tired of answering the door, keep the porch light on for safety sake.
  • Make sure to keep guests outside. Suppose a group of teenagers comes to the door and one asks if he or she can use your bathroom. It’s probably safer to say “No I’m sorry, I can’t
    allow that.”
  • If you’re alone and feel uneasy with someone at the door, don’t hesitate to pretend you’re not alone. For example, on Halloween you might say (as though speaking to someone who is not visible from the door), “Max, I told you not to eat all the candy. Now we’ve run out!” It doesn’t matter that nobody’s there to answer, just give the impression that you are not alone.

If in doubt, do it!

  • If your front door isn’t highly visible to your neighbors or your neighbors aren’t home, use extra caution. People who are up to no good seek targets where there is low visibility.
  • Overall, your best bet may be to invite someone over to pass out candy with you, or go to the house of a friend or relative for the evening. That way you can enjoy seeing the costumes and handing out candy without feeling vulnerable.

 

Safety While Driving on Halloween

The National Safety Council says accidents involving cars and pedestrians are common on Halloween. If you have to drive on Halloween night, leave yourself plenty of time so you can take extra care pulling in and out of your driveway. If there are children around, ask an adult to watch them as you back out of your driveway.

Kids of all ages get excited and may forget what they’ve learned about safety, so drive with extra caution. Kids (and adults) who are dressed in dark costumes or clothing often don’t realize they can be nearly invisible on a dark street. The best policy for you may be, do your driving while it’s still light out and then stay put if you can.

 

Seniors with Challenges

If you have an elderly person at home with dementia or with physical limitations, don’t leave him or her home alone on Halloween night. If you need to leave, safety experts say take your elder to spend the evening with family or friends, or have someone come and stay with the elder at your home. And be prepared to distract him or her with movies or music, in another room to prevent confusion and fear when kids keep knocking on your door.

 

Teresa Ambord is a former accountant and Enrolled Agent with the IRS. Now she writes full time from her home, mostly for business, and about family when the inspiration strikes.

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