Senior Citizen Fraud: Some Suggestions for Protecting Our Money

Mar 21st, 2010 | By | Category: Senior Finances

SCJ concludes its series of articles on senior citizen fraud with a look at how we can protect ourselves in general against people who try to gain access to our money in bank account(s).  We seniors are at greater risk of losing our money and property because of factors we identified earlier:  isolation, loneliness, loss of loved one(s), physical and mental disabilities, lack of understanding financial matters, and family or friends who may be unemployed or have substance abuse issues or financial and gambling problems. 

You may find these suggestions helpful as a means of self-protection: 

  1. Do not allow strangers, handymen or repair people in your home unless you have made arrangements for them through a reputable local vendor.  If in doubt, ask a family member or close trusted friend to be with you when an appointment is made that requires a stranger entering your home.
  2. If you get a bill you do not understand, ask a family member to help you decipher it, or call the company who issued it and ask for an explanation.  Again, you may want a family member or trusted friend to make the call for you.
  3. Do not put out-going mail in your mail box.  Take it to a mail drop box.
  4. Buy a shredder at the local office supply store and shred all mail and papers that have your identifying information on it.
  5. Do not send money to telephone solicitors.  Do not respond to prize offers.  Hang up the telephone if a solicitor calls you.
  6. Never give out your social security number to anyone on the telephone.
  7. Make sure any caregivers that come into your home have identifying information on them, saying they are whom they say they are.
  8. Review, or have a family member/trusted friend review your health care billing.  Question any bill you do not understand.  Do not give your Medicare or insurance account numbers to any caregivers or medical providers that you did not request services from, especially if they claim to provide free services.
  9. Avoid living trust seminars.  If you want a living trust, go to an attorney recommended by family or trusted friends.

10.  Have all your income directly deposited in your bank.

11.  Keep your checks in a safe place.

12.  Never sign a blank check.

13.  Review your bank statements every month, or ask a family member/trusted friend to review them for you.

14.  Check your credit report annually or more frequently if you have had a problem with it.

15.  Never allow anyone to use your ATM card or any personal credit cards.

16.  If you are having difficulty writing out your bills, ask a family member or trusted friend to do that task for you; or set up automatic bill payment through your bank. 

The more informed we seniors are, and the more we know about protecting against fraud, the safer we are and the more likely we are to remain independent longer. 

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