Millions of older adults fall prey to financial scams every year. As the Baby Boomer generation gets older, more retirees are becoming targets. Why? First of all, seniors are thought to have a significant amount of money sitting in their accounts. Secondly, seniors are often vulnerable to cons due to cognitive issues that can impair judgment or isolation and loneliness that can make them dangerously trusting. Finally, seniors are often times afraid or embarrassed to admit that they may have been tricked.
It is important to talk to your loved ones about Financial Scams and Identity Theft because they are less likely to fall for a scam if they have been forewarned about specific schemes and know some of the “red flags” to look for.
General tips to help reduce the risk of your loved one becoming a victim of Identity Theft or Financial Fraud include:
- Use direct deposit for Social Security and other benefit checks to prevent them from being stolen out of the mailbox.
- Never give credit card, banking, Social Security, Medicare, or other personal information over the phone unless you initiated the call.
- Sign up for the “Do Not Call” list. Visit DoNotCall.gov to stop telemarketers from contacting you.
- Be careful with all mail. Do not let incoming mail sit in the mailbox for a long time and when sending out sensitive mail, try to drop it into a secure collection box or directly at the post office.
- Don’t buy from an unfamiliar company and always ask for and wait to receive written material about any offer or charity.
- Shred all receipts and bills that contain a credit card number.
- Make a copy of their Medicare card and block out the last four digits of their Social Security number so if they lose it or their wallet is stolen, no one can get their full Social Security number.
Stay vigilant and warn your older loved ones about the various methods that scammers will use to take their money. Always remember, be wary of what seems to be too good to be true.