Senior Citizen Fraud Issues Updated

Oct 21st, 2010 | By Sharon Shaw Elrod MSW EdD | Category: Senior Finances

SCJ just received a brochure from the United States Postal Service regarding their efforts to stop fraud perpetrated through the mail, online or on the telephone.  SCJ has written about fraud against senior citizens in the past, and this is now a good time to update the information based on the USPS publication.

There are ‘warning signs’ that help seniors identify potential fraud, including

  • sounds too good to be true,
  • pressure for you to act ‘right away’, and asking for credit card information and/or social security number,
  • guarantee of success,

  • promise of high returns on invested funds,
  • requires an upfront investment, even if a free prize is offered,
  • a buyer may want to buy something you have posted on ebay, ebay classifieds, craigslist or any classified ad site; the buyer will tell you she/he will overpay you for an item and have you send them the difference, or make it available to someone who will come to pick up the item being purchased;
  • doesn’t have the look of a real business,
  • something just doesn’t ‘feel’ right.

The following recommendations are made for seniors to follow-up suspected fraud:

  • never click on a link inside an email to visit a website; type the address into your browser window instead;
  • it’s easy for a business to look legitimate online; if you have any doubts, check with the Better Business Bureau;
  • only 2% of reported identity thet occurs through the mail; report online fraud to the FTC at http://www.ftc.gov/complaint;
  • retain your receipts, statements and packing slips, reviewing them for accuracy with orders you place online or on the telephone;
  • shred confidential documents; do not discard them in the trash;

And, finally, some more reminders from the USPS regarding fraud:

  • your bank will never email or call you for your account number;
  • don’t wire money to people you don’t know, or to people who claim to be relatives or friends of people you do know;
  • be cautious of work-at-home job offers;
  • check out any company you might do business with with the Better Business Bureau;
  • there are no legitimate jobs that involve reshipping items or financial instruments from your home;
  • foreign lotteries are illegal in the United States; you cannot win no matter what they say;
  • check your monthly bank statements for charges you don’t recognize;
  • order a copy of your credit report from each of the three national credit bureaus once a year from http://www.annualcreditreport.com.

Remember seniors, you are the only one who can adequately and appropriately safeguard your assets.  Be vigilant.  Seek help from advisors, family and trusted friends if you have questions about keeping your financial future safe.



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