Jan 2nd, 2013 | By | Category: Senior Moments Blog

Protecting seniors from fraud should be a top priority for citizens. If you have a beloved elderly relative, think about the heartbreak of finding out they have been scammed out of their hard-earned savings. Using services like Lifelock and educational tools can help you be proactive and protect against criminals looking to con the elderly.

Common Senior Fraud Scams

Criminals get more and more creative each year. They come up with new ways to connive seniors out of money. Scams could be a scam email convincing the elderly to share their bank account information or social security number, fraudulent insurance provider, a fake sweepstakes that asks a user to provide private information or false investment opportunity or pyramid scam. There have also been cases of thieves falsely posing as relatives to seniors and asking for money. For instance, one case involved a criminal pretending to be a woman’s grandson and having her wire him money to get out of prison.

According to the AARP, the $2.9 billion that is annually reported as being stolen from senior citizens is not an accurate reflection of the true amount. A 2012 survey found that only twenty-five percent of seniors over the age of fifty-five actually report scams to police.

High-Risk Seniors

Elderly individuals who live alone are at the highest risk for falling prey to scam artists. If the senior is alone for long periods of time, a criminal may pick up on this and decide to make the person their next target. Also, a senior citizen who has no type of fraud protection on his funds, could end up losing a lot of money if someone convinces him to hand over his credit card or bank details. If the senior is not educated about the latest scams, he could easily end up falling victim. For instance, one newer scam involves criminals calling the elderly and claiming they won a fabulous prize. To claim the prize, they must pay shipping and handling charges. However, after making the payment, their reward never arrives and they are unable to track down the company who claimed they had won.

Tools to Protect Against Fraud

Communities are beginning to offer fraud protection kits to seniors. The kits are made available through senior educational organizations and teach users how to protect themselves against scam artists. The kits include educational videos and information packets that advise on the latest cons that are being run. Tips on how to stay safe are also provided and should be followed to avoid being victimized.

Legal and medical advocacy agencies are beginning to launch programs as well to keep seniors and their caregivers educated about crimes against the elderly. The Elder Investment Fraud and Financial Exploitation is one of these programs, which began in 2009 and has now trained thousands of medical professionals on how to notice the signs of an impaired mental state that put a person at risk for exploitation.

Lifelong Protection

Companies like Lifelock are ideal for individuals who are worried about the seniors in their lives being protected against fraud. Each time any suspicious activity pops up on an customer’s credit report, an alert is sent out. Not only do these companies monitor financial accounts, they’ll assist in responding to threats. The senior in your life can keep his financial data protected for the rest of his life.

Don’t be afraid to talk to the senior in your life about your concerns. Although he may be holding onto his independence, he still needs to know the importance of not falling victim to cons that could empty his bank account. Use educational tools and identity theft service providers to prevent senior fraud and keep his money out of the hands of criminals.

Written by Justin Greig A self-proclaimed “21st century hippie,” Justin studied Journalism at Berkeley and freelances for many environmental publications.

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