Sally picked up her phone and answered her momâ��s call.
â��Whoa! Slow down, mom. I canâ��t understand you. What happened?â�� Through the sobs, gulps and panicked breathing her mom said,Â â��Sally, I went to the store. My debit card was declined. The bank says my account is empty!â��
Through the sobs, gulps and panicked breathing, her mom said,Â â��Sally, I went to the store and my debit card was declined. The bank says my account is empty!â��
Sallyâ��s mom had fallen victim to a scam artist. The perpetrator gained access to her checking account and wiped her out.
Scams, fraud, and identity theft are on the rise and older adults are especially targeted. The elderly may be more vulnerable because of age-related physical or cognitive issues. They also came of age during a different era when people tended to be more trusting.
BILLIONS OF DOLLARS STOLEN FROM SENIORS
In 2015 True Link Financial released a report stating seniors lost more than $36 billion in scams and fraud. And the numbers keep going up. See the report here:
Scams Are Progressive
The report also highlighted the finding that many scams are progressive. A senior who lost as little as $20 in a year to exploitation will be retargeted. Estimates say they could lose an additional $2,000 a year to other types of fraud. â��Small losses are evidence of an underlying vulnerability.â��
Oregon residents registered 25,468 complaints with the Federal Trade Commission about identity theft, fraud, and scams in 2015. Seniors accounted for 26% of those fraud complaints.
Telemarketing Calls Are Risky Business for Seniors
Seniors receiving just one telemarketing call per day are â��likely to experience three times moreÂ financial loss as someone who receives no or only occasional telemarketing calls.â��Â If you or your parent get telemarketing calls, block them.Â Ask your loved one to screen callers by using voicemail or identifying ringtones.
Call Living Right. We have resources and answers to help.
It isnâ��t just the elderly who fall victim to scams. Anyone using the internet for shopping or research are prime targets – which puts older adults at double risk. Seniors are the fastest growing group of internet and social media users but may be less savvy about the risks and how to protect themselves.
TOP SCAMS TARGETING ELDERLY
Scammersâ�� biggest weapons are fear, greed, and compassion. Hereâ��s a list of the most prevalent scams. See if you can identify which trigger is being used in which scams. Learn more about these scams and how to protect yourself and loved ones. (see Resources below)
Medicare & health insurance scams
- A scammer calls posing as a Medicare representative so they can get a personâ��s personal information. They often tell the victim they owe for service that werenâ��t covered.
- Sometimes theyâ��ll even provide fake services at a mobile clinic. They use the personal information to bill Medicare and pocket the money.
IRS & tax frauds
- Calls and/or notices supposedly from the IRS saying you owe taxes. They threaten arrest and jail. The IRS never makes calls like this and never threaten arrest.
- If you get a fake IRS call, hang up immediately and report it to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484.
Funeral & cemetery scams
- Scammers call or send letters to the family of recently deceased. They claim the deceased had an outstanding debt with them and will try to extort money for fake debts.
- Scammers are always looking to sell fake products and services.
- Scammers want your personal information.
- These scams especially show up right after a natural disaster. Scammers solicit donations for fake charities.
Internet & email phishing fraud
- Scammers send emails posing as reputable companies: utility companies, IRS, Microsoft, etc. They tell you they need to update their records or say you have a problem with your account. When you click the button/link, youâ��re redirected to a fake form asking for personal information. Or you end up downloading a virus.
- Beware the Pop-up browser windows simulating virus-scanning software. They fool victims into downloading a fake anti-virus program (see the Cyber Security Awareness info below).
Homeowner & Reverse Mortgage scams
- Scammers send personalized letters to different properties posing as the County Assessorâ��s Office. The letter looks official by showing valid property information thatâ��s publicly available. The scammer offers a reassessment of the propertyâ��s value â�� for a fee â�� promising to reduce the taxes.
Sweepstakes & lottery scams
- Scammers call saying youâ��ve won a sweepstakes or lottery. But to receive the prize you must to send a â��processing feeâ��.
The grandparent scam
- Scammers call pretending to be a grandchild or family member in a crisis and ask for money. They usually say things like: the car broke down, canâ��t pay the rent, etc.
- In this scam the fraudster tells the victim to â��keep it secretâ��.
Postcard/mail order scams
- In this scam, the victim gets a postcard or package in the mail, sometimes with a free sample. This makes the offer seem legitimate. But when you order the item, it never arrives (and now theyâ��ll have your credit card info).
Bank account fraud
- Often victims are tricked into drawing out cash and giving it to the fraudster.
- Using unsecured WiFi for banking or transferring funds puts you at risk.
- Giving out your account information gives scammers access for unauthorized electronic transfers.
Download this tip sheet from the Dept. of Oregon Justice, Six Signs Itâ��s A Scam.
Get the latest scam alerts from the Department of Oregon Justice. Sign up to receive email notices about the latest scams to watch out for.Â GET LATEST SCAM ALERTS
Go to this link on ADRC (Aging & Disability Resource Connection) website and download two more helpful sheets on how to protect yourself from scams.
Reference AARPâ��s, How To Recognize Fraud.
The True Link Financial report cited above, estimates 954,000 seniors are currently skipping meals because of financial abuse. These numbers include seniors whoâ��ve fallen victim to strangerâ��s scams and financial abuse perpetrated by family members (a whole other subject). Scammers are constantly coming up with new and creative ways to defraud people. Â Stay vigilant for yourself and your older loved ones. Prevention is the key. Know the latest scams. Be diligent in following all security recommendations.