By Michelle Reitain
Last updated 8/18/2022 at 10:27am
In the age where everything is digital or online, many of us are on high alert for scams. When I make a purchase online, I always use my credit card, knowing that it is easier to dispute charges. When I get gas, I jiggle to card reader to make sure that there is not a skimmer covering the actual reader. These are fairly minute ways to try and avoid being a victim of fraud.
Between 2019 and 2022, there was a 47% increase in fraud and identity theft. Frequently, those that are targeted are the elderly.
There are a few reasons for this. Many have good credit, sizable financial resources, and tend to be more trusting. In 2020, older adults lost over $3 billion in fraud scams. Most of these scams were romantic, lottery, and sweepstake scams.
Though we think of scams as being perpetrated by unknown people in some far-off location, 60% to 90% of elder abuse comes from family members, opening a credit card in their name, or taking money out of accounts.
Listed below are some common scams:
@The grandparent scam
@Government imposter scams
@Elder financial abuse
@False investment scams
@Fake software and tech support scams
@Robocalls and phishing messages
@Sweepstakes and elder lottery scams
@Elderly romance scams
@Reverse mortgage scams
@Online shopping scams (fraudulent products, non-delivery, etc.)
If you are trying to determine if something is a scam, ask yourself these three questions.
@Is there a promise of free or fast cash? These offers may claim you won the lottery or a sure-fire investment.
@Is there pressure to act fast? Scammers may pressure you to act quickly as not to lose out on an opportunity or as in the grandparent scam, you need to send money quickly to help your loved one avoid danger.
@If it sounds too good to be true, it is too good to be true. This old adage is probably correct.
Asking questions and taking your time can help you avoid being a victim. As we know, never give personal information over the phone or email, including bank account information, social security number, or date of birth.
Remember, it is OK to hang up the phone and shut the door. Scammers rely on people being polite.
If an older adult is a victim of fraud, they are the least likely to report fraud. This may be for several reasons. One may be just not understanding the reporting process and the other may be shame and the fear of losing their financial independence. It is important to keep communication open with family and not feel guilty or embarrassed.
Financial advisers or accountants may be the first to spot fraud, but family members can also watch for specific warnings which may include:
@Large or unexplained bank withdrawals
@New acquaintances suddenly accompanying them to the bank
@Sudden insufficient fund activities or unpaid bills
@Forgery or suspicious signatures on checks
@Wiring large sums of money
@Embarrassment or unwillingness to discuss the problem
@Loss of property
@Altered wills and trusts
If you or someone you love is a victim of fraud, it is imperative that it is reported to the local police and your bank if you deposited or transferred money.
If you’re not sure who to call, AARP’s ElderWatch program can direct you to the appropriate agencies. Call the program at 800-222-4444 and select option 2.
728 3rd St., Suite D
Mukilteo, WA 98275
Ph: (425) 347-5634
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