Fraud is on the rise
Unfortunately, we live in a world where financial scams targeting the elderly are on the rise. According to True Link Financial, a west coast firm specializing in fraud protection for seniors and their families, millions of older Americans fall victim to criminals resulting in the loss of over $36 billion1 annually. The good news, however, is that many of these crimes are actually preventable if you know what to look for.
First, know the scams
- Grandparent scam: Scammers call or email posing as a grandchild/family member in distress who needs money (usually via gift card or cash) immediately.
- Romance scam: Criminals using dating websites, apps, or social media build rapport and trust—and then start asking for money.
- Lottery/inheritance scam: Fraudsters send fake letters or emails telling people they must pay an up-front fee to claim the prize.
- Imposter scams: A criminal calls pretending to be from Fidelity Investments or another financial company (like your bank) and requests you send them back a one-time passcode that the criminal has generated through fraudulent web activity (e.g., trying to reset your password).
- Tech support scams: A criminal claims to be from a well-known company and requests remote access to your computer, wanting you to believe you have a serious problem. Once on your computer, they install malware that captures all your keystrokes and ask you to pay a ransom to make it stop, or attempt to launder money through your account.
Next, prevent a scam or stop a fraud in progress
- In EVERY scenario, the absolute first thing to do is stop communication with the criminal immediately.
- Make sure you have discussions with your loved ones about scams, phishing emails, and junk emails on a regular basis.
- Identify red flags—drastic rise in expenses, adding people to accounts, changing beneficiaries, or a sudden significant online or other relationship.
- Never share account access credentials with anyone.
- Add a power of attorney to accounts where appropriate.
- Consider credit freezes and elder protection monitoring services like EverSafe.
Finally, if you or a loved one suspect a scam is occurring, take the steps suggested by one of the agencies below:
Fraud alert credit freeze:
- AARP fraud watch network
- Consumer finance protection bureau resources for older adults
- Federal Trade Commission OnGuard online scam alerts & security tips
- Submit an online complaint to the FBI