Tips to Prevent Elderly Fraud and Identity Theft
“Tips to Prevent Elderly Fraud and Identity Theft” by Christine Bieniosek | Associate – Tax
Financial and identity theft is increasing at an alarming rate, especially for the elderly. As commerce moves away from brick-and mortar stores to the internet, many business transactions can be conducted electronically.
While this is convenient, it presents a great deal of risk as well. The elderly are particularly susceptible to financial and identity theft. They may not be as vigilant to newer fraud techniques due to unfamiliarity with recent technology.
Others no longer handle their own finances and must rely on and trust others. Fortunately, there are easy safeguards available to protect yourself or a loved one from being taken advantage of by scammers.
Common “Elderly Fraud” Schemes
Telemarketing scams are common fraud schemes targeting senior citizens. Telemarketing scams come in many forms. Frequently, a scammer will call an elderly person offering to sell a fictitious product or service and will only accept payment over the phone.
Another common telemarketing fraud scheme is to call with news that the elderly person has won prize money or a free vacation, and request personal information over the phone in order to claim the prize.
Also effective is the fake grandchild phone call to their grandparents. In this situation, a fraudster pretends to be the grandchild of an elderly couple. The fraudster claims they are in trouble and need cash fast. The fraudsters are very convincing and the grandparents believe they are talking to their grandchild and send the money. This scheme is extremely powerful if the fraudster knows the actual grandchild’s name through information gathered from social media.
Tips to Avoid Identity Theft and Fraud
It is very easy to fall for these traps in the heat of the moment, but there are ways to avoid identity theft and fraud:
- Offer to call them back, and verify the company selling the product or service on the internet. If you do not have access to a computer, ask someone you know well and trust to check. A legitimate salesperson will allow you to call back at your convenience and will not insist on completing the transaction at that moment.
- Never give any personal information, such as a credit card or social security number, over the phone. If you are truly interested in the product or service offered and are sure that the business is real, make your purchase over the company’s secure website rather than through someone over the telephone.
- If the call is regarding a prize you have won, does this seem far-fetched? Trust your instinct. Did you enter in any contests or prize drawings recently? If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- If your phone service offers caller ID, do not answer the call if you do not recognize the caller or phone number. Avoid believing the scammer’s story before they can start.
If you suspect that you received a fraudulent phone call, report the incident to law enforcement agencies. Please contact us for more information on fraudulent schemes targeting the elderly. We would be happy to answer your questions.