An especially terrible type of fraud is elder fraud. There are far too many scammers who specifically prey on older individuals. Steps to minimize risk to the seniors in your life (also relevant advice for people of all ages) include:
- Be cautious with personally identifiable information. Many common fraud schemes involve compromising someone’s identity. It’s wise to safeguard Social Security numbers, birth dates, driver’s license numbers, and similar identifiers.
- Avoid unsolicited communications. If you or a loved one have yet to seek out a service or initiate a conversation with someone, be it over the phone, on your doorstep, or online, it is likely best not to engage.
- Regularly monitor financial accounts and credit scores. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau provides information on how to obtain a free copy of your credit report.
- Become educated on current scams. The Department of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime, provides several common schemes. You can also reach the National Elder Fraud Hotline at 1-833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311). Additionally, the nonprofit National Council on Aging offers several sensible recommendations.
- Encourage loved ones to verify requests from unfamiliar sources and seek advice from trusted family or friends.
- Never rush into a significant financial decision.
- Stay in regular contact with your aging friends and family members. A natural consequence of aging can be losing connections through retirement, moves, and the deaths of spouses, family members, and friends. Social isolation is one of the greatest risk factors for elder financial exploitation, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse.
Fighting all types of fraud takes a multi-layered approach. Whether ICW Group’s Special Investigations Unit is helping you combat workers’ compensation fraud or you are helping your loved ones avoid becoming victims, the best strategy is to be vigilant and proactive in several meaningful ways.