There seems to be no end to the types of creative frauds that scammers will come up with in a bid to gain access to an elderly person’s financial assets. The internet has only perpetuated these alarming crimes. Four years ago, elderly persons reportedly lost a whopping $2.9 billion because they were the victims of some type of fraud.
This past June, a Pennsylvania Senator sought to staunch this tide of scams with the introduction of a bill called the Senior Investor Protections Enhancement Act. If passed, the perpetrators of investment scams targeting those above the age of 62 would see potential fine levels raised dramatically. Individuals defending against a civil suit would face a fine as high as $150,000, up from $100,000. Businesses would similarly see potential fines raised by $50,000 to $550,000.
Prompted by this bill, a new report attempts to raise awareness about some of the typical scams faced by elderly persons as described in a consumer reference guide about the topic.
Most scams will involve the fraud pretending to be someone they’re not, such as a bank manager. In this case, they’ll explain to the elderly individual that they would be much obliged if they could withdraw money to help them catch a thief. He or she will make up some excuse about how an employee has been accused of skimming money and they need to track serial numbers. Then, when the elderly person meets with the scammer, he or she takes the money and never looks back.
This scam is a good example where checking with your financial institution can go a long way. Don’t trust a number the person provides. Simply hang up the phone, look up your bank’s number online or in a phone book, and call to verify the identity of anyone who calls unsolicited claiming to be a part of the bank. The above request would never be filed by a bank, but other scams are less obvious, and thus it’s best to always verify the person on the line is who they say they are.
A bank manager isn’t the only person a scammer will claim to be. Some seniors might find themselves receiving notes in the mail asking for a charitable donation. Everything sounds on the level, and official government seals are even affixed, but in truth the letter has just come courtesy of a high-level scammer. As with any scam, always verify the identify of any person or business sending mail your way.
Finally, scammers might attempt to dupe elderly persons into believing a phone call is from a grandson or granddaughter and that they need financial help immediately. They’ll of course say that they have to keep this between the two of them. As you can guess by now, the best way to avoid this scam is to call the person they claim to be or their mom and dad to check on the veracity of the identity.