Now more than ever, scams are much more common. While anyone can get scammed, most times, it’s your aging loved ones that are the victims. To help combat this form of elderly abuse and really avoid elder fraud altogether, we went to Consumer Reports and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) to get their tips on keeping our loved ones safe from fraud artists.
Of the different forms of elderly abuse or elder fraud, financial scams are the most prevalent. In these scenarios, a senior citizen is coerced, bullied, or tricked into relinquishing their hard-earned assets. Studies show that only 1 in 44 victims report the crime, making it more difficult for the FBI to combat it.
Additionally, seniors may be less inclined to report fraud because they do not know how, or they may be too ashamed of having been defrauded. They also may be concerned their relatives will lose confidence in their abilities to manage their finances. And when one chooses to report a crime, they may be unable to give detailed information to investigators.
“Often the ones in a position to see what is happening in time to help stop a fraud are the ones who are part of the payment process. They include the banks, gift card sellers, and others,” says George Slover, senior policy counsel for Consumer Reports. But there is still a long way to go in stopping fraud against senior citizens, and individuals are still the first line of defense.
A few tips to keep you or your loved ones protected against fraud:
- Search online for the contact information and the proposed offer. Sometimes you can find other people post information online about a similar scam.
- Resist from acting quickly. Scammers rush their victims and like to create a sense of urgency and persuade victims into an immediate action.
- Don’t respond to text messages or calls that come from numbers you don’t recognize. If it’s important, the caller will more than likely leave a voicemail.
- Be aware of emails that note a change of financial information, attachments, links, unusual content and requests. Validate changes to financial date by photo with a trusted contact every time.
Your protection and safety are top of mind. To learn more about how to stay safe from fraud, the FBI site has a list of common scam scenarios, resources, and more.