According to “The True Link Report on Elder Financial Abuse, 2015” each year the elderly are defrauded of as much as $36.48 billion, and much of that money is taken through means that are unethical and deceptive but technically legal. Seniors need to be especially on their guard against those who would and could steal their money. Seniors are especially tempting as a target for many reasons-they have more ready cash, they may be more trusting and less likely to think fast on their feet.
Scams can happen over the telephone, by email or in person. Common tricks include fraudsters claiming to be IRS Agents, Bill Collectors, Health Care Representatives or even a long lost child or grandchild in trouble.
The best way to avoid being taken in by scammers is to be educated and aware. Here are some tips to help protect our Senior Citizens
• Be aware that you are at risk from not only strangers but those close to you. More than 90% of all reported elder abuse cases is committed by the persons own family members
• Stay involved and do not isolate yourself. Isolation is a large risk factor for elder abuse-limit risks by staying involved in activities
• Shred all receipts with your credit card number. Identity theft is a huge business and using a paper shredder is one of the best ways to protect yourself
• Sign up for the DO NOT CALL list. Signing up for the National Do Not Call Registry will stop unwanted calls from Telemarketers.
• Use Direct Deposit for benefit checks ensuring checks go straight to the bank and not stolen from the mail box.
• Never give credit card, banking, social security or Medicare information or any other personal information over the telephone. Medicare information should be protected the same way as credit card, banking and social security information.
• Be skeptical of all unsolicited offers and do your research. Be an informed consumer, call and shop around before making a purchase and carefully read all the contracts and the fine print before signing.
• Trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
Source: United Northern Mortgage Bankers, Ltd., 2016