Latest "Fraud Detection & Prevention" Posts
Holiday Security Tips: On the seventh day of Christmas, the experts gave to me, 7 fraud alerts
George Bailey had his identity taken away to learn a valuable lesson. His guardian angel was able to reinstate it at the end of the movie, but if your identity is stolen, you may not be so lucky. Sometimes there is no possible way to prevent identity theft. The reality of living in the information economy is that your identity will occasionally be compromised. But don’t worry – if you catch fraud quickly, you won’t lose much.
Solution: Use Automated Account Alerts to Catch Fraud Quickly
Catch holiday identity theft quickly by actively monitoring your checking, debit and credit card accounts.
The key is to catch and resolve fraud within 30 days, before it becomes a headache.
As you head into the holiday season, one of the best steps you can take to protect your bank account is to eliminate the use of your debit card. While delivering a keynote speech in Washington DC last week, someone asked me if I could name ten times when you should NOT use a debit card. I replied, “It’s a trick question because the answer is NEVER!” I seriously do feel that way, but I know there are people who either need to or prefer to use a debit card rather than a credit card or cash, so I want you to be informed about how to use it wisely.
The past two blogs have outlined why seniors are targeted, what signs to watch for, and some common schemes. Now for the truly important info: How to prevent elder fraud from happening and what to do if it does happen!
- Report actual or attempted elder fraud (or any type of fraud) via Fraud.org’s Online Complaint Form.
- Change the phone number if a senior is receiving excessive sales calls.
- Change the bank account or credit card numbers if they have fallen into the hands of thieves.
- Avoid getting on sucker lists. Don’t fill out contest entry forms at fairs or malls—they are a common source of “leads” for con artists. Ask companies you do business with not to share your personal information with other marketers.
- Know your “Do-Not-Call” rights. Under federal law, you can tell a telemarketer not to call you again and you can file a complaint on the Do Not Call website.
In our previous blog we talked about why senior citizens have become such a target for con artists and even unscrupulous relatives to commit elder fraud and take their hard-earned money. We also talked about signs that they may be being duped. Today, we want to make you aware of the variety of schemes that are out there. This is by no means a complete list, but will give you a pretty good idea of what to watch for.
- The “Grandparents Scam”: someone phones or e-mails and pretends to be a grandchild in trouble. The elderly person, who may not have much contact with their grandchild, might be convinced and may wire money or send a prepaid debit card to help.
- Offers of “freebies”: the Better Business Bureau of eastern Michigan reports that scammers now are offering seniors $3,000 in “free groceries savings certificates” along with a free medical alert bracelet. The scam may lure people to give away bank account information.
Imagine spending your whole life working hard, saving wisely and spending conscientiously—only to have your comfy “nest egg” taken away by unscrupulous scammers or even your own greedy relatives in your golden years. Sad to say, this is a scenario that is far too common; up to 80% of scam victims are over 65, according to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. A 2009 study by MetLife’s Mature Market Institute estimates that seniors lose approximately $2.6 billion per year to elder fraud, or what they call financial abuse, meaning fraud by outside scammers or theft by family members and acquaintances.
And this issue will take on even more importance in the years to come as the senior population in America grows. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 37.3 million people 65 and older in the United States as of 2006. This group is expected to double in size within the next 25 years. By 2030, almost 1-out-of-5 Americans – some 72 million people- will be 65 years or older.