With the holiday season upon us, unfortunately there tend to be more people trying to scam, especially targeting seniors. In a recent consumer news report, the FDIC has advised seniors on various ways that con artists and scammers seek to take advantage of the elderly. Financial fraud is a growing concern amongst seniors, and as more and more people reach retirement age every day, con artists around the country are targeting seniors with any number of fraud schemes. Here are several tips you should know about elderly scam if you are a senior, or have an aging family member or loved one.
Elderly Scam Warning Signs
Many people who target seniors for financial fraud do so through unsolicited phone calls or e-mails. These contacts typically come with the promise of lucrative investments, lottery winnings, or other financial windfalls. They also typically come with a request or demand for money up-front. This is a clear warning sign that the contact you’ve received is fraudulent and that you are being targeted for victimization.
Another warning sign is when people ask for sensitive information. In many situations a con artist will contact the senior posing as that senior’s bank, or as a government agent. They will then ask the senior to hand over financial information, account details, or personal identification information. Once they have such information, these scam artists will use it to commit identity fraud against the senior.
One of the best things seniors can do to protect their own interests is to keep financial and personal information safe. Don’t provide others with your social security number, account information, passwords, or other details over the phone or via e-mail. If you believe that you’ve received the communication from your bank or from a government body, always verify the contact first. Don’t do this by responding to the phone number provided in the letter or by the phone caller, but instead, look up the actual contact information. If the contact is genuine, the financial institution or government agency will be able to tell you if they require your assistance or cooperation.
Seniors can also protect themselves by allowing others to manage their finances for them. Creating financial powers of attorney can be a good option for many seniors because it allows them to name someone whom they trust to manage their financial responsibilities.
But even powers of attorney must be carefully crafted. If you are worried that someone might misuse the powers granted by the power of attorney, you should speak your estate planning lawyer about creating protections. For example, you might consider requiring a third-party to agree on any of the decisions your agent makes under the power of attorney you grant.