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Elder Financial Abuse on the Rise

Apr 16, 2021 General

According to the FBI, seniors lose more than $3 billion annually from financial exploitation. Millions of America’s seniors become victims of fraud each year and are the most targeted victims of this crime.

The Georgia Division of Aging Services Adult Protective Services investigated more than 9,000 reports of financial exploitation against seniors and adults with disabilities in 2020 alone. What can you do to protect yourself or a loved one from financial fraud and scammers?

Know the Scam:

Although there are many different types of scams, here are three of the most common that affect seniors:

  • Family/Caregiver Scam: The National Center on Elder Abuse reports that 90% of elder financial abuse is committed by a senior’s own family members or someone they know. Elder financial abuse most frequently occurs when a family member or caregiver has gained control of a senior’s money and assets and are using those assets for their own benefit instead of the benefit of the senior.
  • Medicare/Health Insurance Fraud: Since every U.S. citizen over the age of 65 qualifies for Medicare, health insurance and Medicare fraud are a common way to target seniors. Scammers pose as health insurance or Medicare representatives to convince seniors to disclose their private information. If you believe you’re receiving a health insurance or Medicare call from a perpetuator, hang up and call Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) and report the scam at ftc.gov/complaint.
  • IRS Impersonators: Criminals typically threaten seniors over email, mail, phone or in person by saying they owe money for taxes. These scams are typically presented with a sense of urgency and scare tactics, in which they demand that the person pay immediately or face potential jail time. If this happens via phone, hang up and call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 to check the validity of the call.
Protect Your Personal and Financial Information:
  • Never give money, gift cards, checks, personally identifiable information or financial information to people you don’t know and trust.
  • Resist the pressure to act quickly. Recognize the scam and end all communication.
  • Be cautious of unsolicited mail, emails, text messages, and social media messages. Don’t download or open any attachments or links from suspicious email addresses, phone numbers, or people you’re not familiar with.
  • Make sure anti-virus and security software are up-to-date on all your devices.
Contact Your Banker

If you are unsure of a call, email, or message asking for your personal information, financial information, or money in any format, or if you believe you’re a victim of elder financial abuse, don’t hesitate to contact a banker at your local branch.


AUTHOR

Doug Keipper

BankSouth, Bank Secrecy Act & Anti-Money Laundering Officer

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