TOO TRUSTING = SUSCEPTIBILITY

There are 5 million cases of elder fraud in the United States annually, resulting in $27.4 billion in losses. Most victims don’t report it, due to embarrassment. As awareness of this issue grows, so does the brazenness of those committing the frauds.

Too Trusting = Susceptibility

Seniors seem to be most susceptible to fraud and abuse; they come from a generation that trusted. Baby boomers are more skeptical. But I think as you age, you want to believe in the goodness of people, and that makes you more vulnerable.

Seniors are in more frequent contact with medical professionals who can steal their vital information. My brother-in-law’s identity was stolen by someone who stole a credit card receipt for his inpatient hospital TV service.

A lot of seniors pick up the phone and stay on the phone because they long for someone to talk to. They’re simply lonely. We had a friend whose mother was called by someone asking if they were having problems with their computer. She literally stayed on the phone for an hour and a half with the person. Thankfully she was not compromised in any way, to our knowledge.

It typically starts with a robocall. Someone writing for AARP actually called the number back and provided fake information just to gauge the process. Th e caller first asks for your name, address and social security number. Th e AARP reporter provided fake information but the caller persisted, outlining alleged fraud that happened with that social security number. They try to confuse and scare you. In this particular case, they said that they had to issue a new social security number and that someone would call back. They did, and the caller ID actually read “social security administration.” Bottom line: Th e caller told the reporter he had to clear his accounts and buy gift cards to purchase bonds, then call them back with the numbers.

According to the U.S. PIRG – Public Interest Research Group – website: “With full name, birth date and Social Security number, a thief can try to open a Social Security account in your name and change your direct deposit information to his or her checking account.” They continue: “Coupled with other information that can easily be found online, such as place of birth, a thief can try to claim your benefits over the phone.”

Common Types of Scams They include:

  • Telemarketing/phone scams.
  • Medicare fraud.
  • Tax fraud.
  • Funeral and cemetery scams.
  • Internet fraud.
  • Reverse mortgage scams.
  • Sweepstakes and lottery schemes.
  • Grandparent scam.
  • Stealing mail.

Prevention is always your best option. Here are some tips:

  • Self-monitor your credit and bank statements, as well as your medical bills.
  • Consider signing up for identity theft protection and identity theft insurance.
  • If you’re hiring anyone to come into the house, conduct background checks.
  • Purchase a home safe or safe-deposit box.
  • Shred, shred, shred your paperwork.
  • Consider a security wallet or handbag that protects against credit card skimming.
  • Get your mail soon after it’s delivered, and stop mail when away

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