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Fight Elder Fraud with Awareness

Fight Elder Fraud with Awareness

Fight Elder Fraud with Awareness 2560 950 Waterford Bank NA

Shelly Wheeler, SVP, Compliance/Risk Officer, Audit Manager

Elder fraud is a growing problem. In fact in 2022, 88,000 victims over the age of 60 reported losses of almost $3.1 billion to the FBI – an 84% increases in losses over losses reported in 2021.

While those figures can leave you feeling helpless, taking simple steps to safeguard yourself or your loved ones can greatly help protect them against elder fraud.

What is Elder Fraud

Elder fraud can come in many forms – but at its core it is the financial abuse of older individuals. This can include theft, fraud, misuse of a person’s money, or caregivers using their influence to gain control of an older person’s assets.

A caregiver watches over her grandfather.

A growing number of our nation’s seniors are losing their information and money – not only to anonymous criminals online, but also caregivers.

Coupled with physical and mental capabilities diminishing, reliance on caregivers, and using unfamiliar technology, it can be difficult for seniors to know how to trust or where to turn for help.

Common Elder Fraud Scams

Fraudsters might be bad, but they are creative and have come up with many ways to scam older Americans out of their money and personal information. Here are a few of the common elder fraud scams criminals will use:

  • Charity Scam – Criminals may call or email pretending to be from a reputable non-profit, gaining their victims’ trust and promising donations are going to a good cause, when really they’re going into the thief’s pocket.
  • Grandparent Scam – Another play on the heart strings, a fraudster will call or message pretending to be a child or grandchild who needs immediate financial aid. The grandparent is spurred on by a sense of urgency and love and ultimately sends funds to a criminal.
  • Government Impersonation Scam – Growing in popularity, fraudsters contact seniors pretending to be from the IRS, Social Security, or another government entity. Once they’ve got you on the line, they threaten individuals with arrest or prosecution…unless they agree to pay.
  • Romance Scam – Preying on lonely seniors, criminals will pose as a potential romantic partner on social media or dating sites, scamming jewelry, funds, and other gifts out of their victims. You can check out our previous blog about romance scams here for more information.

How to Fight Elder Fraud

Losing money to fraud or exploitation can be especially devastating to seniors, who may not be able to recover the money, may be too embarrassed to come forward, or simply don’t understand that they are being scammed.

It’s important to remember that you are not alone! The first step starts with protecting yourself.

An older lady smiles while looking up from her phone.

If you suspect you’ve fallen victim to elder fraud, don’t let embarrassment keep you from protecting yourself. Be sure to report the incident and take steps to try and recoup you loss.

Never give out personal information, account numbers, or other credentials to someone who contacted you out of the blue. Trust your instincts. Exploiters can be charming and forceful in their effort to convince you to give up control of your finances. Don’t be fooled—if something doesn’t feel right or sounds too good to be true, it may be a scam.

The next step is talking to a professional agency or to your trusted financial institution and reporting the situation. The stronger the relationship you have with your banker, the more likely they will understand your finances and transaction history and the better off they will be in catching suspicious activity with your account.

Elder Fraud Resources

If you suspect financial abuse, there are a number of additional resources available to older adults that you can turn to for help.

As your relationship banking partner, Waterford is happy to provide tools and tips to help mitigate the risk of elder fraud and beyond. If you have questions or need assistance with a possible fraud situation, please do not hesitate to contact us.

About the Author

Shelly Wheeler

Shelly Wheeler is the SVP, Compliance/Risk Officer, Audit Manager, heading up an expert team of compliance professionals at the Bank. With over 3 decades in the financial industry, she has dedicated her career to ensuring banks are adhering to regulatory requirements, while upholding their commitments to their customers and communities.  If you’d like to connect with Shelly or learn more about elder fraud protection, please contact us here.  

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