Senior fraud prevention tips
Seniors are often the target of scams, which threaten their financial, medical and personal needs. Each day, criminals develop new tricks to target and take advantage of retirees, but families can protect seniors from scams by addressing fraud prevention tips.
“Scammers are finding new and innovative ways to prey on this country’s seniors, but with the right mix of law enforcement action, resources and awareness, we can effectively combat these criminals,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill, a ranking member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging.
The U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging has developed a fraud prevention guide which examines fraud crimes against seniors. According to the committee, the top 10 scams targeting our nation’s seniors in 2016 include:
- IRS impersonation scams
- Sweepstakes scams
- Robocalls / unwanted phone calls
- Computer tech support schemes
- Identity theft
- Grandparent scams
- Elder financial abuse
- Grant scams
- Romance scams / confidence fraud
- Home improvement scams
“Putting a stop to these disturbing scams targeting our nation’s seniors is among my highest priorities as chairman of the Senate Aging Committee,” said Sen. Susan Collins. “I cannot emphasize enough how important it is that seniors and their families become aware of [the scammers] techniques and take action to protect themselves and their loved-ones from these heartless criminals.”
Tips to help secure your identity
- Medicare and Social Security will not call you to ask for your bank information or SSN.
- There will never be a fee charged to obtain a Social Security or Medicare card.
- Never give out personal information over the phone.
- Sensitive personal and financial documents should be kept secure at all times.
- Review all medical bills to spot any services you didn’t receive.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has published the following tips for consumers to avoid being deceived by callers:
- Do not give out personal information in response to an incoming call. Identity thieves may pose as representatives of banks, credit card companies, creditors or government agencies to convince seniors to reveal their account numbers, Social Security numbers, mothers’ maiden names, passwords and other identifying information.
- If you receive an inquiry from a company or government agency seeking personal information, do not provide it. Instead, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement, in the phonebook or on the company’s or government agency’s website to find out if the organization that supposedly called you actually needs the requested information.
Tips from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to help consumers avoid becoming victims of computer-based scams:
- Do not give control of your computer to a third party that calls you out of the blue.
- Do not rely on caller ID to authenticate a caller. Criminals spoof caller ID numbers. They may appear to be calling from a legitimate company or a local number when they are not even in the same country as you.
- If you want to contact tech support, look for a company’s contact information on its software package or on your purchase receipt.
- Never provide your credit card or financial information to someone who calls and claims to be from tech support.
- If a caller pressures you to buy a computer security product or says there is a subscription fee associated with the call, hang up. If you’re concerned about your computer, call your security software company directly and ask for help.
- Make sure you have updated all of your computer’s anti-virus software, firewalls and pop- up blockers. If you need help with this, ask a loved one or visit a large retailer that offers tech support.
What to do if you suspect you are the victim of fraud
What to do right away:
- Call any service providers that may be affected (e.g., if your credit card number is stolen, call your credit card company).
- Place a fraud alert with a credit reporting agency and get your credit report from one of the three national credit bureaus.
- Report identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission.
- File a report with your local police department.
- Contact the Senate’s Special Committee on Aging Fraud Hotline toll-free at 1-855-303-9470 or fill out this online form.
What to do next:
- Close new accounts opened in your name.
- Remove bogus charges from your accounts.
- Correct your credit report.
- Consider adding an extended fraud alert or credit freeze.
If you or a loved one is particularly vulnerable to fraud, consider senior living options like Holiday Retirement, which offers seniors security and peace of mind.
Residents of Holiday Retirement communities receive helpful tips and information regarding fraud prevention and safety on a regular basis. Many current residents feel secure and educated about senior scams. Get in touch with us today to learn more.