As technology becomes more prevalent, an increasing variety of attacks are appearing. Whether it’s a phone call from someone posing as a grandchild asking for money or an email scam from someone in another country offering investment opportunities, financial scams are causing elderly Americans to lose money every year.
According to the AARP‡, the rate of elder financial exploitation has more than doubled since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, with an estimated $100 million stolen that year alone. To protect yourself and loved ones from elder financial fraud, consider these tips.
Avoid unknown emails
An easy way for scammers to gain access to your financial information is through a virus on your computer, so avoid clicking on links from email addresses that are not familiar. A scammer might also try to pose as a financial institution in an email. If this happens, call your bank or financial partner first to confirm that they sent a message before providing any financial information over email.
Verify phone calls
A scammer can also call and pose as a grandchild in need of money in an emergency. Before transferring funds or running out and buying gift cards, confirm with your family that the suspected grandchild is in danger. Even if the scammer says to not tell anyone else, if a member of your family claims to be in danger, double check before withdrawing or transferring any money.
Manage your financial footprint
Another effective way to protect against financial fraud is to reduce the opportunities for someone to access your information. You may receive special offers and other marketing materials in the mail, in addition to account statements, bills, and more. This paperwork can be an entryway for scammers who may gain access through recycling or trash. Whenever possible, establish paperless billing or statements, and shred all other paperwork before throwing it away.
As technology and fraudsters’ schemes continue to evolve, it can be challenging to stay one step ahead which is why it’s important to have a trusted financial partner. Ask your bank or financial advisor whether they’re up-to-date on fraud prevention training and what specific measures they take to protect the elderly. A little extra education and vigilance can go a long way in helping keep our elderly friends and family from becoming victims of financial fraud.
Preventing elder financial fraud
To learn more about identifying and preventing elder fraud, take our Preventing Elder Financial Abuse course in our Financial Education Center.
Explore tips for protecting your financial future through the Protecting Health and Wealth playlist on the UMB Financial Education Center.
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