What is Elder Financial Fraud?
Elder Fraud is a billion dollar industry. Yes, billion, and some of our most vulnerable community members are often the target of such scams for the simple reason that they're too polite or too trusting to question whether or not the scam is legitimate.
A study conducted by the Office of Financial Protection for Older Americans found that in 36 percent of cases, the victim knew the perpetrator. Scammers can be a family member, fiduciary, caregiver, friend, or acquaintance. Seniors are also less likely to report a scam because their embarrassed or fear that their family will think them incapable of managing their own finances.
Elder Fraud is on the Rise
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, a study done by Comparitech.com found that Elder Fraud was actually on the rise and that seniors were being scammed for bogus COVID-19-related products, such as vaccines and air filters. This isn't the only kind of fraud happening. According to FBI.gov, the most common types of Elder Fraud are:
- Romance scam: Scammers pose as potential romantic partners on social media or dating websites to take advantage of the desire to find companionship. According to the Federal Trade Commission, from 2016 to 2020, reported total dollar losses increased more than fourfold, and the number of reports nearly tripled
- Tech support scam: Scammers pose as technology support representatives and offer to fix non-existent computer issues. The scammers gain remote access to victims' devices and sensitive information.
- Grandparent scam: This involves posing as a relative—usually a child or grandchild— and claiming to be in immediate financial need.
- Government impersonation scam: Criminals pose as government employees and threaten to arrest or prosecute victims unless they agree to provide funds or other payments.
- Sweepstakes/charity/lottery scam: Criminals claim to work for legitimate charitable organizations to gain victims' trust. Or they claim their targets have won a foreign lottery or sweepstake, which they can collect for a "fee."
- Home repair scam: Criminals appear in person and charge homeowners in advance for home improvement services that they never provide.
- TV/radio scam: Criminals target potential victims using illegitimate advertisements about legitimate services, such as reverse mortgages or credit repair.
- Family/caregiver scam: Relatives or acquaintances of the elderly victims take advantage of them or otherwise get their money.
So how can you protect yourself and your loved ones from these savvy scammers?
- Reset your passwords.
- Alert your financial institution immediately if you think there's been a scam.
- If you feel threatened, call the police.
- If you've transferred money, report it to the police.
Also, be aware that North Country Savings Bank will never ask for any of the following information on the phone or via email:
- Account numbers
- Social Security numbers
- Date of births
- Any other non-public personal information via email.
If you ever receive an email or unsolicited phone call requesting this type of information DO NOT provide it and contact us immediately at (800) 356-7709. Provide us with as much information as possible so we can properly warn other customers.
Be proactive by checking your bank statements regularly and taking note of any unauthorized transactions. Our team is here to help you.