Every year, millions of elderly Americans are the target of various forms of telemarketing and internet fraud. Due in large part to seniors having a lifetime of accumulated savings, they tend to be attractive targets for financial predators.
Fraud targeting the elderly takes many forms, including posing as a grandchild or IRS employee. Grandparent schemes are particularly dangerous because they play directly to emotions. One such example occurs when an imposter calls an elderly individual and asks if they know who is calling and wait for a name. Once they get a name, the fraudster will assume that person’s identity, then act as if they are in some type of bind or emergency and ask for money to help them out of it.
There are two main warning signs to look for when confronted with such a situation. To begin, a perpetrator will ask for the money to be sent through a money transfer service. This type of service allows them to receive the money in a nearly untraceable manner. Second, the caller will tell the grandparent not to tell anyone about their conversation. Both tactics should immediately raise red flags warning of potential fraud.
Fortunately, there are a few easy tips to remember to help avoid becoming a victim. First, be aware of uninvited calls, including ones from sales people, charities, and business that you do not already have a relationship with. Next, be wary of callers insisting that they need to talk to you. These types of callers typically claim they are calling on behalf of your bank or utilities, then threaten you with some type of negative action. If this is the case, tell them you can’t talk and will call them back directly. More, make sure to take your time as perpetrators will also try to create false deadlines to make you feel rushed. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, keep credit card, checking account, and Social Security numbers private. Anyone calling you on official business will, in most circumstances, already have all of the information they need to speak with you.
Protective actions are always more effective when taken in advance. An estate planning attorney is well positioned to help with this. Crafting a well-thought out plan that takes into account important personal concerns is a great way to help protect against becoming the victim of fraud.