Millions of older adults fall victim to scams each year, losing substantial amounts of money they need for their retirement. In fact, scammers often target seniors in financial scams, because they expect older adults to have significant savings in their bank accounts.
If your senior loved one becomes a victim of fraud, it can leave them in a precarious financial position with little time to recoup crucial funds. This means it’s important to help them identify when a scam has taken place and, if possible, avoid scams before endangering any money. We’ve outlined some of the strongest signs of a senior scam.
Signs of a Senior Scam
Keep an eye out for the following warning signs that may indicate a loved one is the victims of a senior scam.
Changes in Behavior
If a loved one suddenly starts acting afraid or confused, initiate a compassionate conversation with them to get to the root of the problem. If they’ve fallen for a scam, they may be afraid and could be embarrassed to talk to you about it. Speak with empathy and look for solutions.
Unusual Changes in Their Accounts
This sign could look like uncharacteristic withdrawals, unfamiliar transactions with their debit or credit card, or a new person added to their accounts. If you see worrisome new developments, sit down with your senior loved one to discuss these changes and seek financial assistance if it turns out a scammer is responsible.
Bills Are Past Due
If essential bills are going unpaid despite suitable funds, you may want to investigate what is causing the interruption and ensure their accounts aren’t compromised.
5 Ways to Avoid Scams for Seniors
You can’t monitor your loved ones every minute, but you can provide assistance and advice to help them avoid senior scams.
Don’t Give out Personal Information.
Remind your loved ones not to provide their personal information over the phone. This includes their Social Security number, banking information, credit card numbers, Medicare information, and any other personal details that could be used to falsify their identity or steal funds.
Discourage your loved one from buying items from an unfamiliar company or source. They should always ask for the business’ details, salesperson’s name, telephone number and business license number before making any transaction with them. Suggest your loved one tell you about potential purchases. With the information they provide about the seller, you can search the internet to find out if they’re a legitimate company.
Sign Up for the “Do Not Call” List.
You can visit the Federal Trade Commission’s Do Not Call website to sign up your loved ones for the “Do Not Call” list. This one step will limit telemarketing calls and help shield them from many individuals perpetrating senior scams.
Enroll in Direct Deposit.
Help your parents or loved ones enroll in direct deposit for any benefit checks or other sources of income. Direct deposits ensure funds go directly into their accounts. This precaution eliminates the chances that a thief will steal checks out of their mailbox.
Suggest loved ones shred any credit card receipts that contain personal information. Unfortunately, stealing identities is a very lucrative business. It’s important that seniors take measures to make themselves less susceptible. They should regularly monitor their bank and credit card statements for unusual activity and contact their financial institutions immediately if they notice anything strange.
What To Do If You Become a Victim of Fraud
Older adults shouldn’t have to constantly worry about senior scams. Knowing the signs and smart defensive actions should help ease their minds. If your loved one does experience a scam, report the fraud to the Federal Trade Commission complaint department and to your state’s consumer protection office. Contact your local law enforcement and any other pertinent organizations.