Financial abuse and senior fraud scams are on the rise and seniors are a common target. Why? Senior citizens are prime targets because they hold approximately 83% of the wealth in the US. As aging naturally occurs, changes in the brain occur as well, known as "age-associated vulnerability", which can cause seniors to be more susceptible to financial exploitation. Other factors could include social isolation, less experience with technology, and memory issues.
While there are countless scams out there, there are a few top types of senior fraud that are very common and you need to be aware of.
Prescription drug scams
Sweepstakes and contests
Scammer sophistication has increased dramatically, and it is becoming more and more difficult to distinguish between what's legit and what's not. Here are a few tips to help avoid falling victim to scammers.
The best rule of thumb is if you did not initiate the contact, go directly to the source. Do not click on any links or reply to an email or text or call the phone number listed in the email or text. Go to the business's website or look up their phone number and call their number directly. You can show them or tell them about the communication you received and ask if it was actually from them.
Check your credit report on a regular basis.
Always ask charities for their Federal Tax ID number and research them on a website like Charity Navigator.
Check the Better Business Bureau about the company you want to do business with.
NEVER give out personal information to anyone who contacts you using a phone number or email address you don't recognize.
If anyone calls claiming to be from a healthcare provider, utility company, or someone who is asking for money, hang up and call back using a phone number you look up from a legitimate source.
Never give out your birth date, home address or other personal information on social media, over the phone, etc. Scammers can use this information to apply for credit cards or loans.
There are many companies that offer personal and financial monitoring, such as LifeLock, for reasonable rates. Banks and credit unions are becoming more and more aware of scams and can offer help and advice to protect you from financial exploitation. Remember, if anything seems suspicious, tell a trusted family member or care provider right away! Do your research and stay aware of current scamming trends to help protect yourself and your loved ones.