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Fraud Prevention For Seniors

Many senior citizens — because they are likely to have a good amount of money saved up, have good credit, and own their own home — are targeted by con artists and scammers. Financial scams targeting senior citizens have become so prevalent that it’s being called the crime of the 21st century. The vast majority of cases involving the financial exploitation of senior citizens is committed by a family member, aide, or other trusted individual, but strangers often join in these scams.

Authorities believe that many of these scams go unreported because the victim is embarrassed and worried that their children will take away their independence if they discover the deception.

According to Ann Harkins, the CEO of the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC), well-educated men 55 and older are the most likely to fall victim to financial exploitation. She says that they believe themselves to be savvy and that they know how to protect themselves, which leads to them unwittingly falling for scams. While they may be the group who most often fall for scams, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t educate yourself in the various types of fraud that may affect you or your loved ones. This list covers six of the more common types of scams affecting senior citizens:

  • Identity Theft: While not limited to senior citizens, someone attempting to steal your identity will most likely call and claim to be from Medicare, the IRS, your bank, or some other entity with access to personal information. They will ask for credit card numbers, your social security number, and/or other types of personal information. It’s important to never give your personal information to someone over the phone unless you were the one who initiated the call.
  • Family In Need: The scammer will usually impersonate a grandchild in need, often crying to obscure their voice and make their “plight” more convincing. They will claim to need money right away for some reason or another, usually involving legal trouble or that they got in an accident, often in a different country.
  • Dating Scams: Internet dating has created a brand new avenue for scammers to target lonely seniors. Because it’s so easy to create a profile and develop a relationship without ever needing to meet face-to-face, this type of fraud has only become more common.
  • Home Repair Scams: Far too often, people who knock on your door offering home repair services are simply casing your home in preparation of robbing you. Others may overcharge for shoddy or incomplete work, so it’s important to remember that legitimate contractors rarely if ever solicit by going door to door.
  • Computer Tech Scams: A caller claiming to be tech support from a hardware, software, security, or some other type of company may ask to be granted remote access to your computer in order to “assist” you. They may also ask for your credit card information, or for you to enter that information in a website they direct you to. You may also be approached by this type of scam through an email.
  • Power of Attorney: Seniors can lose everything, including the contents of their bank accounts, as well as their homes by giving someone they believed could be trusted power of attorney. The scammer may claim that it’s just to assist the senior in paying their bills, but without reading the entire document closely they may be signing away far more control than they ever intended. It’s best to have your attorney read through the document fully before signing anything.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) started the FINRA Securities Helpline for Seniors (844-574-3577), where callers can get help vetting advisors, as well as ask questions they may have about investments or advisors.

If you or a loved one has fallen victim to a financial scam, contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today. Elder abuse can take many forms, and it’s important to have professional legal counselors on your side in order to find the solution you need. Contact us today through our website, or call us at (312) 257-3786.

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