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Senior Scams are Serious

Deseret News recently published an article, “How to prevent your elders from being targeted by a financial scam,” that quoted Kathleen Quinn, executive director of the National Adult Protective Services Association, labeling elder financial abuse “rampant, largely invisible, expensive and lethal.”

Likewise, a recent study by True Link Financial estimated the problem costs more than $36 billion every year. But these statistics may be low because elder financial abuse crime frequently goes unreported. Victims can be too embarrassed to admit they’ve been swindled, or they just don’t know how to get help.

To help protect an older loved one from elder financial abuse, become familiar with the more common types of scams:

  1. Telemarketing often involves the elder making a purchase over the phone or making a donation to a charity;

  2. Medicare and health insurance fraud happens when a con artist poses as a Medicare or health insurance representative and asks for personal or payment information for a fraudulent invoice; and

  3. Internet fraud is where legitimate-looking emails ask for money or personal information.

Here are a few other important ways to guard against potential elder financial scams.

Don’t answer calls from numbers you don’t recognize to help avoid spoofing and telemarketers. If a call appears legitimate and appealing, the senior should ask if the organization is licensed, as each state has licensing requirements for the sale of financial products and insurance. Although many legit salespeople offer to meet clients in their home, all strangers should first be fully vetted. If someone who reaches out to you agrees to a meeting, bring along a trusted adviser. If the solicitor balks, end it right there.

If you think you’ve been targeted for some sort of scam, take quick action. Contact the police, the bank, the brokerage company, or other financial officials. Many times they can intervene before a thief can access the money, or they can at least limit the damage.

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