Scams are scary, but they’re preventable in many cases by gaining knowledge and being proactive. Seniors are becoming easy targets for scams of all kinds: online, telephone, money, tax, and mailing to name a few.
The Many Ways Fraud Appears
Fraud is like a tornado. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it can be destructive. Below is a list the National Council on Aging identified as top financial scams targeting seniors:
- Medicare/health insurance
- Prescription Drugs
- Homeowner/reverse mortgage
- Investment Schemes
- Funeral & Cemetery
How can you ensure you’re stopping fraud in its tracks? Sign up for credit report monitoring. Change passwords frequently. Check your statements on a monthly basis. And, never give your personal information to anyone over the phone, especially your social security number.
Why Older Adults Are Fraud Targets
In a study performed by a UCLA psychologist, it was discovered that older adults may have less activity in their brain to process risk and danger. Seniors tend to be more trustworthy, which can increase vulnerability. Unfortunately, this age demographic is the perfect target for scammers.
If you or someone you know think you’ve been scammed, don’t be embarrassed or afraid to talk about it. Call your bank and/or credit card company, cancel any debit or credit cards linked to the suspicious account, and reset your personal identification number. Don’t delay in these steps; doing so could only make it worse.
Tips for Protection
Stay up-to-date on scams and learn how to protect your identity in every aspect of your life with these simple tips…
1. Do your research
Before you conduct any business, look for information on the company by doing a quick search online for the company name. You can also type in “scam” or “complain” in the search field and see what populates. Locate a physical address, not just a P.O. box.
2. Keep an eye on your mailbox & virtual wallet
Clever scammers have been known to steal checks right out of mailboxes. When possible, use direct deposit so your funds go directly into your account. This ensures protection.
Did you know that wiring money is just like sending real cash or check in the mail? Don’t fall into the trap of a scammer reaching out in an email pretending to be a friend or relative in dire need of money, requesting a wire transfer. This is called phishing.
3. Trust your instinct
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Never agree to pay for something or send funds to an unknown source. Many scams require you to “act now” creating a demand to send cash immediately. This is a red flag you should not ignore. Although there’s no sure thing, use your intuition and “go with your gut” instinct. Ask questions and request things to be put into writing.
4. Invest in a paper shredder
This minimal investment will save you dollars and headache in the long run. Use a paper shredder to shred all receipts and statements with your account numbers.
5. Stay up-to-date on scams
The Fair Trade Commission (FTC) has a fraud alert page dedicated to scam alerts. Stay in the know about what the scams are and where they are taking place. The FTC works to prevent fraudulent practices in the marketplace. It is also where you can report someone who may be falsely claiming to be from the government, a business, or family member.
The IRS also publishes a list of “dirty dozen” scams. It is a resource to put on your annual review list for various tax scams to avoid falling into the trap of.
Ensure you are protecting yourself with these simple, yet helpful tips. At Walker Methodist, we partner to be your fraud protection advocate. You can count on us to help answer any questions that may come up regarding this and other financial topics.