Financial scams targeting senior citizens are happening with more frequency. The FBI reported that, in 2021, 92,371 older adults were victims of fraud totaling $1.7 billion in losses. Scams and fraud not only have a devastating effect on the victim’s finances, but can lead to a whole host of other issues including insomnia, depression, and anxiety.
Some of the most common financial scams that are perpetrated against older adults are scams involving:
- Government impersonation
- Sweepstakes and lottery
- Robocall scams
- Impending lawsuit
- Medicare and health insurance
- Internet and email
While there are many types of fraud against the elderly, one of the most common is stealing information about an individual’s credit cards. This is actually considered a type of identity theft because the criminal is using the victim’s personal information to get money, goods, or credit.
Protecting your parents
Seniors are often victims of fraud because they usually have financial savings, own their home, and have good credit cards, making them attractive targets. In addition, seniors may be less likely to report being a victim because they don’t know how to go about that, or may be too ashamed about having been scammed.
If you’re concerned that your parents may become targeted by scammers, what steps can you take to make sure that they don’t become victims? The following are some simple precautions that you can take to make them more aware of potential scams and fraud and to protect them from being victimized:
Beware of computer downloads and email attachments from people they don’t know. Don’t share private information online, in an email, over the phone, in a mail-in envelope, or in person.
- Secure their computer
- Set up banking safeguards
- Watch out for suspicious emails
- Check bank and credit card accounts every month for unauthorized charges
If your parent is a victim of credit fraud, you need to take the following steps:
- File a police report ASAP and get several copies to provide to banks, credit card companies, and credit bureaus
- Notify credit bureaus and their bank
- Close any credit card or other accounts that you suspect of having been compromised
- Request that any fraudulent purchases be reversed and any fraudulent accounts be removed
- Place a security freeze on all credit reports from all three credit reporting agencies
What to do if you or someone you love is a victim
Losing money or possessions to scams or fraud can be devastating to older adults. If you, an elderly parent, or other family member has been a fraud victim, you can have all fraudulent accounts shut down and all false charges removed from your credit report.
If you have trouble disputing wrongful or false credit reporting or having fraudulent accounts removed from your credit report, your best option is to contact an attorney. The Law Offices of Robert F. Brennan, APC, attorney for identity theft, handles identity theft cases under both federal and CA law.