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The Facts About Seniors and Fraud

April 8th, 2016 by judytalks

Moving forward following a loss means building a new life. Who you are now may be very different from the person who lost a loved one. The changes taking place prompt learning as a survivor begins to thrive.

Understanding the place and purpose of money is often difficult for older women. This may lead to mistakes in managing your money. The last blog post told the true story of an unsuspecting lady who lost a large sum of money. My research regarding scams and fraud turned up useful information for identifying these crimes.

The following is an article for you to read and save.

The Facts About Seniors And Fraud

Scamming is a billion dollar international business. It targets anyone with a telephone or mailing address. Senior citizens are particularly vulnerable.

There are no solid statistics regarding the number of seniors who are victims of fraud, because many never report it. It’s estimated, however, that one in 20 persons over 65 have been victimized, while only one in 44 ever report it.

Scams are often perpetrated by a phone call or letter. Both appear legitimate. Impressive letterheads and references to titles and offices imply authority. However, there are telltale signs that it’s not for real. Sentence structure is often awkward, with numerous grammatical and spelling errors.

According to the FBI, older citizens are easy to scam because they are too polite and trusting. Con artists easily exploit these traits, drawing people into well-rehearsed pitches, and then steal their nest eggs. Because of their reluctance to hang up or authenticate the letter, the money is gone.

The reasons senior citizens rarely report fraud:

  • Don’t know where or how to report it
  • Concerned that relatives will think them mentally incompetent
  • Too embarrassed to admit it

What can be done? Early detection results in stopping fraud in its tracks. There are two levels of detection and prevention in the US:

  • Federal programs inform and educate.
  • Community programs train employees to spot suspicious activities.

Banks train employees to be on the alert for irregularities when doing business with customers. A suspicious signature, a withdrawal for an unusually high amount, or a transaction that doesn’t fit the profile for this customer may elicit a conversation for clarification. It may save someone from financial disaster.

Communication and money transfer companies, such as Western Union, now train employees to recognize potential fraud. Partnering with law enforcement and individual detection experts can greatly increase awareness of identity theft and other forms of fraud.

Family members need to be aware that their loved ones are aggressively targeted. Thousands of products and services being sold seem legitimate. Many have specific appeal to seniors. Health aids, financial insights, cognitive and memory games and anti-aging products are especially popular, and it’s difficult to spot the scams.

When elderly citizens do report, they usually make poor witnesses because

  • Memory may be impaired.
  • It may be difficult to admit they have been swindled.
  • Weeks or months may have passed before reporting.

A government website that has information on all aspects of fraud, scams and identity theft:

https://fbi.gov/scams-safety/fraud/seniors.

Careful reading will help you to become familiar with all the kinds of fraud and how to spot them. Shop wisely, safeguard your nest egg, and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

A Google search turned up a long list of websites for “how to identify and prevent scams.”  These are from a variety of sources.

https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0060-10-ways-avoid-fraud

http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/slideshows/10-ways-to-avoid-online-scams

http://lifehacker.com/how-to-identify-and-avoid-the-most-common-telephone-sca-1692068970

http://www.rd.com/advice/saving-money/7-online-scams-and-how-to-avoid-them/

http://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-charges/credit-debit-card-fraud.html

Billions of dollars are stolen every year from people of all ages. Senior Citizens are a prime target.

Don’t take chances with your nest egg. And if you think you’ve been scammed, call the police.

Identity Theft

January 20th, 2013 by judytalks

Everyone’s heard of it, and scared of it. Identity theft. Fraudulent use of your information – bank account, credit card, social security number, financial account. No one anticipates that this will happen to you. It happens.

In December I received a statement from a bank in which I no longer held an account. There was a charge on a credit card I had shredded 14 months previously. The card had never been loaned, lost, or stolen. But there it was. A small charge to a credit report company, of all places.

I called the bank immediately and talked through the situation – what they would do, what I would do. I called the number listed for the company where the charge was made. We discussed the charge, I was given the name of the individual, though the police later told me that means nothing, and I went on the AZ government website to see if there was anything else I should be doing. It was recommended I make a police report. The charge on my card was under $20.00, but I knew that could only be the beginning. I made a police report and followed their recommendation to file an online report to the FBI.

To say this is frightening is an understatement. I do everything possible to safeguard my identity. I shred everything. I change passwords frequently. I check statements, accounts, and I subscribe to Triple Alert. Someone opened an account on a credit report website with my shredded credit card.

The only way you can be completely safe is to live on an island by yourself. Have no personal information that can be stolen. Understand that if you are a victim, you have to act immediately, document everything said over the phone, keep records together, file reports with authorities, and be prepared to make repeat calls to the bank (they didn’t follow up appropriately), and to the place(s) where charges were made. They didn’t follow up correctly either. Clip everything together, make notes to yourself, and keep the papers handy for quick reference.

I hope this is taken care of, but I’m not holding my breath. Since this happened, I’ve talked with several people where I live who have experienced identity theft. It can rear its ugly head months or years later. You need police reports to prove yourself to some creditors, so tough it out.

Cyber space isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It’s a jungle out there. Take care.

Judy

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