Elder Fraud Prevention
It is so very important to protect senior adults from getting scammed because they are very vulnerable to becoming prey to these scam artists and thieves. It is estimated that over $40 billion is stolen from senior adults in the nation EVERY year!! Prevention is worth a pound of cure, so education and making them aware of what is out there and how they can protect themselves is the key.
You've probably seen the ads and websites: Mistakes on your credit report can cost you thousands! Check your credit report for free!
Only it's not really free. You need to give your credit card number and sign up for a free trial membership. Don't cancel, and you're stuck with a monthly fee. But cancelling is not always so easy, says Anaiboni Torres, 41: "I called and they didn't answer." He finally got through — but had to pay for one month. He's lucky. If he hadn't noticed the charge on his credit card statement, he could have paid much more. Others have. Instead, says Cena Valladolid, of Consumer Credit Counseling Service, go to AnnualCreditReport.com or call 877-322-8228. You're allowed one free report a year from the three major credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Request one report from a different bureau every four months, and you're covered for a year. If you do get scammed, contact the Federal Trade Commission.
Learn more about elder fraud and how to identify a scam as well as refuse and report them by visiting the AARP fraud protection page by clicking on this link: AARP Fight Elder Fraud Page.
Telemarketing Fraud Tips --- Learn How to Protect Yourself
Many legitimate companies and charities solicit consumers by phone. Unfortunately, con artists use the phone, too. They rob people every day, with phones as their weapons.
· Fraudulent telemarketers understand human nature. We all want to believe that it’s our lucky day, that we can get a great deal, or that we can solve our problems.
· Older people are disproportionately targeted by fraudulent telemarketers. That’s because they’re home to get the calls, they have money saved that can be robbed, and they’re too polite to hang up.
· It’s important to know who you’re dealing with. If a company or charity is unfamiliar, check it out with your state or local consumer agency and the Better Business Bureau. Fraudulent operators open and close quickly, so the fact that no one has made a complaint yet doesn’t guarantee the company or charity is legitimate. Ask for advice about the type of pitch you received and the danger signs of fraud.
· Some telemarketing pitches are blatantly fraudulent, and you should know the signs. It’s illegal for telemarketers to ask for a fee upfront if they promise or claim it’s likely they’ll get you a credit card or loan, or to “repair” your credit. It’s also illegal for any company to ask you to pay or buy something to win a prize, or to claim that paying will increase your chances of winning. And it’s illegal to buy and sell tickets to foreign lotteries by phone or mail.
· Other danger signs of fraud may he harder to recognize. They include: pressure to act immediately; refusal to send you written information; use of scare tactics; demands to send payment by wire or courier; demands for payment of taxes or customs fees to claim a prize; requests for your financial account numbers even though you’re not paying for something with them; promises to recover money you’ve lost in other scams, for a fee; claims that you can make lots of money working from home; and refusal to stop calling when you say you’re not interested.
· Beware of identity thieves. Crooks pretending to be from companies you do business with may call or send an email, asking to verify personal information they should already have. Contact the company directly to confirm before providing information.
· How you pay matters. If you pay for a transaction with cash, checks, or money orders, your money is gone before you realize there is a problem. Paying by credit card is safest because you can dispute the charges if you don’t get what you were promised. You don’t have the same dispute rights when you pay with debit cards or give your bank account number. Bank debits have become fraudulent telemarketers’ preferred form of payment.
· Where telemarketers are located matters, too. Some fraudulent telemarketers are deliberately located in other countries because it’s more difficult for U.S. law enforcement agencies to pursue them. It may be hard to tell where they are; they may have mail forwarded from the U.S. and use telephone numbers that look like domestic long-distance. Be very cautious when dealing with unknown companies from other countries.
· Be prepared when you answer the phone. Think about the advice you’d give someone else about how to detect fraud, then follow that advice yourself. Use Caller ID or an answering machine to screen calls. Don’t hesitate to hang up on suspicious calls.
· Know your “do-not-call” rights. Put your number on the national “do-not-call” registry to stop most telemarketing calls. Call 888-382-1222, TTY 866-290-4326 or go to www.donotcall.gov. You can also tell companies not to call you again on a case-by-case basis. Report violations of your “do-not-call” rights through the “do-not-call” number or Web site. Report telemarketing fraud to the NFIC at 800-876-7060, .
Why do scam artists so often target seniors?
Criminals deliberately target seniors because of generalizations about older people. Some of these factors include:
- Many seniors have valuable assets, including homes, proceeds from sales of appreciated real estate and retirement savings.
- Seniors may be concerned about running out of money in retirement and more open to claims of quick profits.
- Older people often have trouble remembering things or suffer from mental confusion, making them easier to dupe.
- Seniors may be isolated socially and desire attention, even from strangers, making them more vulnerable to undue influence and exploitation.
- Seniors have traditional values and often respond politely when faced with unsolicited proposals or charitable requests.
- Sometimes older people avoid reporting that they’ve been scammed because they fear they will lose their independence.
How does the telemarketing sales rule protect consumers?
Under the federal Telemarketing Sales Rule:
- Phone solicitations are prohibited between 9 p.m. and 8 a.m.
- Telemarketers must tell you up front that they are selling something—and which company is doing the selling.
- All mentions of promotions, prizes or contests must be accompanied by the statement that no purchase is necessary to enter or win.
- Telemarketers who are selling a credit service, such as a credit card, loan or credit repair service, cannot ask for advance payment.
- Telemarketers may not use abusive or obscene language, threats or intimidation.
- Goods or services cannot be misrepresented or exaggerated.
- It is illegal for a telemarketer to withdraw a payment from your checking account without your written or recorded oral permission.
- Report violations and rule breakers to the NFIC at 800-876-7060, .
Beware of scam artists in sheep's clothing
Are senior adult victims liable for any money that’s lost because of ID theft?
No, victims of identity theft are not responsible legally for any money that is lost when crooks make unauthorized use of their credit information—but it can be difficult and time-consuming for victims to prove that fraud occurred.
Is there a central source of help for senior adult victims of ID theft?
Yes. The Federal Trade Commission has a special identity theft hotline to provide information to consumers and take complaints from victims by phone (877-438-4338) or online (www.ftc.gov/idtheft). Victims are given advice and their cases are entered in a national ID theft database shared by law enforcement agencies at the local, state and federal levels.
....Then the next thing to do is,
Close all fraudulent and unauthorized accounts. Contact the fraud departments of each of the three major credit bureaus. Fraud department numbers at the major credit reporting bureaus are: Equifax, 800-525-6285; Experian, 888-397-3742; TransUnion, 800-680-7289.
Additional Resources That Can Help:
The Elder Fraud Project brochure
is available from the National Consumers League with lots of great information to help educate senior adults.
National Consumers League1701 K Street, N.W., Suite 1200Washington, D.C. 20006(202) 835-3323.
The Federal Trade Commission manages the National Do Not Call Registry and helps with identity theft issues and protects consumers against unfair, deceptive or fraudulent practices.
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20580
The 10 Mandates for the Elderly
Ask for identification from anyone doing a home inspection.
Be wary of contractors who try to scare you about danger in your home.
Do NOT withdraw money from your bank account at the request of a stranger or someone who claims to have an official capacity.
Do NOT hire unlicensed roofers or home improvement contractors.
Do NOT conduct business over the phone without requesting that all information be sent to you in writing.
Do NOT buy anything for the chance to win a prize.
Guard your personal information.
Do NOT sign legal papers or make financial plans without obtaining 2nd or 3rd opinions from someone who will not benefit from your decision.
Get an opinion or help from an attorney or CPA on any matters that may cause a family dispute.
Plan for your future by seeking the advice of an elder care attorney or planner.
Don't let you or your loved one
become a victim to elder fraud!
* Our agency is available to speak at senior groups on elder fraud prevention. Give us a call to arrange a presentation and get us on your calendar.
(855) 488-8111 toll free