Elder Fraud Prevention
Financial fraud against elders is on the rise. It is estimated by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that older Americans lose $2.9 billion annually to financial exploitation. Scammers and con artists target elders they perceive as having qualities that make them vulnerable. This might be someone who is more isolated or lonely, physically or mentally disabled or have other extenuating circumstances that cause them to be more susceptible to fraud. To protect yourself and your loved ones, it is important to be aware of current fraud schemes. Here are some examples of common practices used by scammers.
In this scenario, a scammer takes an inauthentic romantic interest in their intended victim. Often, the source of the relationship comes from dating websites, but not always. A new love interest in the life of an elder may begin building trust in order to eventually take financial advantage of the elder. The CFPB offers these warning signs of a romance scam:
- A new love who lives far away asks you to wire them money or share your credit card number with them—even if they say they’ll pay you back.
- Your new romantic interest asks you to sign a document that would give them control of your finances or your house.
- Your new sweetheart asks you to open a new joint account or co-sign a loan with them.
- Your new darling asks for access to your bank or credit card accounts.
Grandparent or Relative Scam
Another common scenario is the “grandparent scam” in which a scammer calls an elder pretending to be a relative in distress and needing money immediately to get out of trouble. The grandparent wants to do nothing more than come to the aid of their loved one, but unbeknownst to them, they have wired money to a scammer and will never get it back. The CFPB provides the following tips to help you verify the emergency caller is not an imposter:
- Ask a question that only your loved one can answer.
- Hang up and call the relative’s known phone number.
- Call someone else you trust to verify the story before you send money.