Post by Elise Brown
Each year thousands of senior citizens fall victim to financial scams. Because they usually have retirement money set aside, they are much less likely to report fraud due to embarrassment. This is very unsettling because it is completely avoidable. We can’t be as trusting as our parents and grandparents used to be, and we all need to take responsibility and educate ourselves about these scams.
Types of Scams
- Phishing – This term refers to a phone call or email that attempts to trick the victim into giving out important personal and/or financial information, which the thief then uses to access bank and credit card accounts.
- Rebate Scams – The only way you can receive an economic stimulus rebate is with your 1040 tax return, but some thieves contact seniors and tell them they can receive another rebate if they give the caller their bank information or send it via email.
- Product Scams – In this type of scam, the thief will call a home and offer fake products, free travel, or other prizes. They usually target older women, and they typically use pressure tactics to scare the victim into giving away their information.
- Advance Fee Scams – A fake investment opportunity or a lottery win is the draw for this scam. The thief gets the victim to believe that they will receive large amounts of money with the thief’s help, and then they pretend to help the victim to gain their trust. They ask for an advance fee, usually in the amount of thousands of dollars, before the victim can get their money, and then the thief disappears.
- Reverse Mortgage Scams – Fake banks or other lenders contact seniors with an offer for a reverse mortgage. Then they pressure the victim to convince them to sign a contract and give all of their information to the fake company.
How to Avoid Them
- Don’t respond to advertisements you did not ask for through the mail, by phone, or through email.
- Always read through everything you have to sign very thoroughly.
- NEVER give out your credit card information, social security number, or any other personal or financial information over the phone unless you know for sure that you are contacting someone trustworthy.
- Double check any emails you receive requesting financial information. Even if it looks like it is coming from a legitimate place, but scammers can easily copy logos and text to make their email seem legitimate.
- Pay attention to your personal finances. Look over all of your bank records and other financial documents to make sure you know where your money is going.
- Ask your bank to contact you when they see suspicious withdrawals.
- Block the numbers of suspicious callers if possible.
- Above all, remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it very well may be.
Elise Brown is an author who writes guest posts on the topics of business, marketing, credit cards, and personal finance.