June 16, 2024

As online platforms become more popular, fraudsters are expanding their methods and increasingly targeting the elderly. In light of June being recognized as Elder Abuse Awareness month, crucial advice was given by financial experts to help senior citizens steer clear of scams.

Understanding Elderly Scams

Age is no deterrent for scammers. Financial fraud against individuals aged 60 and over is steadily increasing, with the numbers varying across different reports. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center published a report in April, indicating a 14% increase in elder fraud complaints from the previous year. Over 101,000 elder victims lost around $3.4 billion in 2023, according to the agency.

The financial loss suffered by victims over 60 seemingly exceeds the aforementioned figure. This conclusion is drawn out of an AARP report published in 2023, which combined data from several reports, inferring that $28.3 billion is annually lost to scams.

However, Darius Kingsley, the Head of Consumer Banking Practices at Chase, is of the opinion that the real number is higher. He believes that victims often refrain from reporting such crimes due to shame. Even seasoned consumers can fall prey to these cleverly designed scams, he adds.

Jeffrey Bashore, Senior Vice President for bank fraud operations for USAA, stated that there’s a focus on exploiting the most vulnerable citizens among us. He emphasized the need to equip consumers with the knowledge to identify potential scams.

Recognizing Common Elderly Scams

Here are some commonly seen scams that particularly target older individuals; the tips listed have been provided by Chase and USAA:

– **Artificial intelligence scams**: Fraudsters use AI to mimic voices of loved ones in urgent need of money. Consider having a code word with your family to confirm their identity.
– **Romance scams**: Always be vigilant about new acquaintance asking for money, especially if you haven’t met them in person.
– **Tech support scams**: Beware of pop-up messages about a problem, and never give remote access to your computer or pay any fees.
– **Impersonation of banks or reputable companies**: Avoid picking up calls or responding to texts from unrecognized contacts.
– **Government or law-enforcement impersonation**: Scammers will occasionally pose as officials from government agencies to intimidate you into making immediate payments.
– **Investment scams**: If an investment opportunity appears too good to be true, it probably is.

Advice to Avoid Scams

Chase advocates certain advice to help identify scams or fraud:

– Be wary of demands for immediate action and sharing of personal information.
– Protect your finances from financial abuse that often stems from a newfound friend or acquaintance showcasing interest.
– Keep an eye out for uncommon financial activity.
– Be cautious of the “wrong number” trap where a text or call is used as a conversation-starter to gradually lower your defenses.

What should you do if scammed?

It’s essential to report to the authorities and your bank without delay. Don’t hold back due to shame or fear and must always seek help. Reach out to trusted family members or friends to effectively deal with the situation. Remember, the sooner you inform your bank, the higher your chances are to recover the stolen money.

If you find yourself in the middle of an ongoing scam, immediately disconnect contact with the fraudster. According to Kingsley, just like the fire safety practice of “stop, drop, and roll,” one should “pause” when scammed, try not to panic, and immediately establish communication with someone they trust.

FAQ:

What constitutes an elder scam?

Elder scams specifically target senior citizens, often exploiting their vulnerability for financial gains. These scams can vary in nature, including artificial intelligence scams, tech support scams, and many others.

What are relevant precautions one can take to avoid falling victim to these scams?

Some effective tips include treating any unsolicited contact with caution, not sharing personal information without verifying the legitimacy of the requester, watching out for red flags such as demands for immediate action, and being aware of unusual financial activities.

What steps should one take if they have been scammed?

First and foremost, contact the authorities and your financial institution. There’s no reason for shame as such scams are rampant and often sophisticated. Reaching out to trusted family members or community is advisable. Remember, every second count, hence, delay can make refund difficult.