Angie Logan, VP, Clarkston Branch Officer
Did you know, roughly 20% of older Americans fall prey to financial exploitation, losing on average $120,000, or a total of $3 billion every year, according to a study from the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)?
At Waterford Bank, N.A. we’ve taken a proactive approach to detecting and preventing financial fraud against older customers through routine employee training and the use of technology to spot red flags and suspicious activity to better keep account holders safe.
In recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day this June, we wanted to provide our nation’s seniors and their family members with tips to help guard against three major arenas for financial exploitation.
Medicare and Health Insurance Financial Abuse
It is difficult to imagine that someone could prey on those in need of medical assistance, but unfortunately, Medicare fraud is all too common. Criminals are posing as Medicare or medical supply representatives to obtain personal information or provide bogus services and using the information to bill Medicare or assume an identity to perpetrate fraud.
Be alert when you receive calls from people that say they are from your doctor’s office or local health agencies. It could be a scammer on the other end of the phone who is trying to steal your information. If it doesn’t feel right, hang up and call your doctor’s office directly.
As a good rule of thumb never share personal or financial information with anyone who contacts you out of the blue. Instead, hang up, then get the company’s contact information from a reputable source like a secure website. Once you have a trusted phone number, you can call the verified company directly and see if there really is an issue that needs your attention – or if you just saved yourself from a scammer.
Zoom Phishing Emails and Internet Financial Abuse
At the onset of the pandemic, con artists registered thousands of fake Zoom-related internet domains to send phony emails, texts or social media messages to trick consumers into clicking on bogus links related to purported “account suspension” or “meeting” notices. Those that took the bait inadvertently downloaded malware (malicious software) on their computer, exposing their personal information to potential use by fraudsters.
Internet scammers are also known for sending fake text messages alleging trouble with an internet account, credit card, bank account or shopping order. Many even contain realistic looking logos to lure you into clicking on a link and divulging personal information.
Zoom scams could come in a variety of forms, including emails, texts, or social media messages that include Zoom’s logo
To limit your exposure, avoid clicking on links from unsolicited emails or texts. If you suspect a problem with an account, contact the bank or service provider directly.
Seniors schooled in etiquette may frown upon “hanging up the phone” or simply saying “no” to unsolicited calls, but it also leaves the door open to criminals posing as company representatives. Three notable examples include:
- The pigeon drop – where con artists pretend to share found money in exchange for a “good faith” payment drawn from the contacted person’s bank account.
- The fake accident ploy – where con artists create a false narrative that a loved one has been injured in an accident and needs money for medical expenses.
- Charity scams – where con artists solicit funds on behalf of a charity for which they are not affiliated with or is not legit.
Remember, if it’s too good to be true it probably is. If you want to give, go directly to the source. And if you are worried about a friend or family member, verify the information with them directly.
Next Steps for Financial Abuse Prevention
Scams are always changing. This year’s fraud will be replaced by a new and creative scheme next year. To help stay on top of scam trends, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a “scam alert” page with information about the ever-changing ways that scam artists target consumers. Check it out at https://consumer.ftc.gov/scams.
As trusted stewards of our customer’s financial data, our employees are trained on the latest fraud prevention techniques. We work hard to help spot potential scams and take appropriate measures to protect your account.
If you suspect you have been a victim of financial fraud, whether through your Waterford or other financial accounts, don’t delay and notify your service providers and local law enforcement immediately. You can also file a complaint with the FTC Fraud Report Page or the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, as applicable.
Looking for other security related tips? The American Bankers Association provides Safe Banking for Seniors tips, which include easy to follow videos. You can also check out our resources through the button below.
About the Author
Angie Logan is a Vice President and the Clarkson Branch Officer at Waterford Bank, N.A. in Clarkston, Michigan. On the job, she is passionate about providing exceptional customer service and enjoys the relationships she has made with business customers and her community for over 20 years.
Stop by and see why our Clarkston Office has been voted the “Best of the Best Bank” by the Clarkston community for 13 years running – Angie always has a fresh pot of coffee on and is ready to connect! You can also contact any of our locations for assistance. Want to connect? Contact us here.