Seniors are particularly vulnerable to financial scams, says The Journal of Accountancy in its recent article, “Ways to stop elder financial abuse before it starts.” One in 20 senior citizens reports being the victim of financial abuse, according to the National Adult Protective Services Association. These crimes are increasing. Scams targeting the elderly come in several forms, and some of the most common are discussed below.
Someone posing as a grandchild calls and requests money to get out of jail or to resolve a threatening legal problem (actually happened to my friends' parents). Sweepstakes and lotteries are also pretty common scams, yet people still fall for a call, letter, or email telling the senior that he or she has won a sweepstakes or lottery. However, to claim the winnings, the senior must first pay taxes, fees or other expenses. Another scam is phishing, where a senior citizen receives an email saying he or she has a refund coming from the IRS. However, to process the refund, he or she must provide banking details. These emails look convincing, but remember the IRS will never ask for this information by email.
There are several reasons why seniors are particularly vulnerable to falling victim to financial scams. One reason is they may not be financially savvy or technologically adept. The scams have become more sophisticated and involve better use of technology. Seniors may have more disposable income, they’re living longer, and some are not very good with technology.
The conditions create a tempting target for criminals. A fraud might go undetected for some time. This makes it more difficult to nab the fraudsters. When people do fall victim to scams, they also may feel embarrassed and don’t want to come forward. However, if they did, more people would be aware of these crimes. This may possibly prevent it from happening to someone else.
Publicizing common scams can help older people and their families to be on the lookout.
Finally, seniors shouldn’t give out personal financial information, like Social Security numbers or banking account numbers, to anyone who calls or emails them.
Reference: Journal of Accountancy (November 15, 2017) “Ways to stop elder financial abuse before it starts”
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