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Watch Out for These Elder Fraud Scams

August 9, 2022

Older adults are often the target for financial abuse. It's not only important that seniors are educated on how to spot potential fraud schemes, but their loved ones should be as well so they can help protect them.

According to the FBI, older adults collectively lose more than $3 billion each year to elder fraud schemes. Common elder fraud schemes include:

Romance scams — Criminals will reach out through dating sites and social media, pretending to be interested in companionship while gaining the trust of their victim and eventually asking for money. These scams have increased by 50% since 2019, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

Grandparent scam — A fraudster may pretend to be a relative and ask for financial assistance due to an emergency situation. They may express urgency and try to sound panicked to motivate their targets to act quickly.

Charity scam — In these scams, the criminals will try to get older adults to contribute to a fake charity, often by cash, gift card or a wire transfer. The criminals may try to pressure their targets to give immediately.

Sweepstakes/lottery scams — The criminals will contact an older adult, informing them that they have won a sweepstakes or lottery and can collect their winnings for a fee.

How to Protect Elders From Fraud

Anyone can help protect themselves from financial abuse by following these tips:

Keep personal information private.  Never share your Social Security number, account information or personal details over the phone or internet, unless you initiated contact with a trusted source.

Shred! Shred! Shred! Shred receipts, bank statements and unused credit card offers before throwing them away so fraudsters can’t piece together your personal information.

Don’t let a so-called adviser pressure you. Never let a new or untrusted adviser pressure you into sharing personal or financial details. They could be a fraudster.

Check your credit report. Check your credit report at least once a year to ensure no new credit cards or accounts have been opened by criminals in your name.  You can access your free credit report at annualcreditreport.com.

If you believe you or someone you know may have become a victim of fraud, contact your bank for help monitoring your/their accounts for fraudulent transactions. You should also file a complaint through the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.