Senior Fraud Prevention
Senior Fraud Prevention
Older adults are often prime targets for dishonest firms which deliberately prey on the goodness, trusting nature and isolation of people who have reached their golden years. Many of these scams are played out over the telephone, door to door or through various advertisements. Folks over 50 account for over half of all victims of such scams, according to a study conducted by AARP.
The “con criminals,” often are targeting what constitute a lifetime of savings for seniors. Con criminals go wherever they can to find money to steal, deceptively reaching out through the mailbox, the telephone, the internet.
To help protect seniors, KWA received a grant from the Attorney General of Washington for fraud prevention education to seniors. The KWA Senior Fraud Prevention program includes workshops and educational materials to help seniors, their friends and loved ones recognize scams, report fraud and protect themselves and protect one another. As more seniors become informed and spread the word, more con criminals will learn that in the long run, “crime doesn’t pay.”
Common Senior Fraud to Avoid
Up to 6,000 seniors fall victim to identity theft each year usually through criminals accessing one’s Social Security number. Seniors are particularly attractive to criminals because they have better credit and retirement communities are an easier to target.
Relative in Need or “Grandparent”
Beware people who pretend to be a relative, asking for personal information or money. Oftentimes they purport to be in an emergency and need money transferred urgently.
- Don’t volunteer information over the phone.
- Always make sure the person on the line is who they really say they are.
- If unsure, call the friend or relative seeking information or funds and verify it is really him or her that called.
- Refuse to send money through wire transfer.
Foreign Lottery Scams
Be on the alert for calls claiming that you won a prize, and asking you for financial information or to make a deposit to an account in a foreign country. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Never share your credit card and bank account numbers with such individuals.
Beware illegitimate websites offering discounted drugs or low-cost insurance. They often deploy deceptive tactics, like official looking documents. Take steps to verify that internet sites are legitimate if you are not familiar with them.
Dishonest “financial advisors” may offer to provide a free analysis of your investment portfolio, as a way to gain information and access to your assets. Others have sent out mailers offering incredible returns on such investments as gold coins, promissory notes secured by deeds of trust.
Be sure to carefully verify the legitimacy and reputation of any such offers. Never make a buying decision at the time of the sales pitch. Always give yourself time to consider whether it is a good deal. And even with established financial advisors, keep a sharp eye on your assets and be aware of the fees they are charging.
Living Trust Scams
Living trust documents prepared for you by unqualified individuals may result in your estate ending up in probate when the times comes, the particularly difficult situation were told you could avoid. Consider the advantage of using a qualified attorney that specializes in estate planning. In addition, many seniors are frequently talked into making investments that are not wise invest. Disreputable funeral homes may pressure a senior to overspend for a loved-one’s funeral, for example, buying an expensive casket, even when choosing cremation.
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