Each year, millions of seniors fall victim to financial fraud or other scams. These tips are useful for seniors themselves as well as their family members to help protect them. These types of crimes are top priority for those that are in the business of fraud, not even stopping when the victim might happen to be a family member. All too often these crimes go unreported, but using these tips, you can help prevent them in the first place.
1. The Risks Don’t Come from Only Strangers
It has been reported that over 90 percent of abuse to the elderly is done by the older person’s own family. There are many tactics for this include draining joint bank accounts, promising care in exchange for money or property but never delivering on it, and plain theft. If you are or know of a loved one that is being abused financially
2. Give All Solicitors the Same Answer
Never buy from an unfamiliar company, and always wait to donate to a charity until you’ve read their written material. Of course there will always be children in the neighborhood fund-raising for their school, so they are an exception. Generally, it is wise to never donate to somewhere that requires you to write down your credit card information. Get any sales person’s name, company, phone number, address, and business license number before making a transaction.
3. Stay Involved Locally
Sometimes, older people will isolate themselves by withdrawing from their community while others become isolated as they lose the ability to see, hear, walk, and the like. These seniors can become victimized through muggings and purse snatchings when they choose to venture out alone. There are usually community centers and even family members that will help the elderly stay active in communities aimed at seniors.
4. Never Give Personal Information Out Over the Phone
One of the large scams involving seniors is the misuse of Medicare money. Some schemes that involve this are billing for services that were never delivered and selling unnecessary services or devices to Medicare beneficiaries. Protect all Medicare information the same as bank information. Also, ensure that Medicare statements are being checked monthly to account for any services. Some seniors experience false debt collections attempts over the phone, and these bank collection complaints should be taken to the authorities.
5. Sign Up for the “Do Not Call List” and Remove Yourself from Mailing Lists
Visit the government’s Do Not Call List signup in order to stop telemarketers from contacting you. Check your mail regularly, and don’t let anything sit in the mailbox too long. When you are sending out particularly sensitive mail, see if you can drop it off at a secure collection box or at the post office.
6. Shred Receipts
To protect yourself from identity theft, invest in using a paper shredder. Regularly check on your bank statements and don’t ever give out personal information over the phone to someone that calls you from a “business”. If anyone get a hold of your personal banking or financial information, to ensure that you will not encounter identity theft.
7. Choose Direct Deposit Over Checks
When you use direct deposit rather than a check, scammers won’t have the chance to steal benefits checks from the mailbox. A direct deposit will ensure that the money goes straight into the bank account. While the government does use targeted surveillance for certain things, they are not able to monitor all seniors’ bank accounts to ensure that there is no suspicious activity.
8. Stay Skeptical
Try not to rush into making a purchase, and take the time to call around prior to making a decision. Proceed as an informed consumer. It would also be a good idea to have a friend accompany you to anywhere that you may encounter a difficult decision. It is vital to read all contracts or purchasing agreements before signing anything. Try not to feel pressure when making a purchase, these decisions are only yours.