Annually, seniors lose approximately $2.9 billion1 due to fraud. As individuals age, many become more financially secure as they have achieved homeownership, saved a retirement nest egg and acquired assets and investments. Unfortunately, however, many also struggle with isolation, cognitive decline and poor physical health. This combination of both positive and challenging attributes makes older Americans a target for financial fraud.
To combat the problem, having a close, trusted support group of family, friends, community members and caretakers is important. It is also important to practice safe banking practices. Your local bank and its representatives are trained to pinpoint signs of elder abuse and report suspicious activity.
“At United Bank, we are committed to safe and sound banking practices,” says United Bank Market President Mike Proctor. “Our employees are trained to watch for suspicious activity and we utilize predictive software that may identify changing patterns and trigger an alert to notify us of any uncharacteristic activity.”
Bank surveillance is not enough. Prevention through education is key. Not sure what to watch for? Read below for some of the most prevalent scams.
3 Top Scams
1. Telemarketing/Phone Scams
Purchasing items over the telephone versus the internet creates no paper trail, making these transactions almost impossible to trace. There are several types of telemarketing scams. One of the most prevalent involves the scammer posing as someone else. For example, the wrongdoer may convince the senior that a relative or close friend has been in an accident and needs the money for treatment or they may call and lead a senior to believing he or she is with a well-known charity and solicit a donation.
2. Investment Schemes
When they retire, seniors are often looking for ways to maximize their savings while minimizing risks. If an investment opportunity seems too good to be true, it probably is. Scammers try to take advantage of people and steal their financial resources by requesting a large upfront payment in order to reap astronomical returns. Once the lump-sum investment is made, the scammer vanishes, along with the funds.
3. Check Fraud
There are several variations of check fraud. The senior may write a check to someone, and that person alters the amount or orders checks with a new address to write fraudulent checks. Additionally, blank checks could be stolen and forged for any amount.
Scam victims are not just older Americans. Anyone can be a target. Identity theft among all ages hit a record high in 2017. According to Javelin Research and Strategy, approximately 16.7 million individuals were affected by ID theft in 2017. Losing money is one consequence of scams or identity theft, but other incidentals include a damaged credit history, making it more difficult to borrow money in the future.
To help better guard against abuse, the Community Bank of the Nation’s Capital, United Bank, is participating in a bank-wide “Safe Banking for Seniors” campaign. Efforts are concentrated during the months of September and October, with bank-hosted seminars on avoiding scams. Educational materials are available at all United Bank locations throughout the year. Education empowers our communities and United Bank is a proud community partner and resource in the area.
If you believe you may have been a victim of a scam and live in the greater Washington area, contact Adult Protective Services using its hotline, available 24 hours, 7 days a week: 202.541.3950. For more information on United’s “Safe Banking for Seniors” campaign visit a local branch or BankWithUnited.com.
1MetLife Mature Institute Report