World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is June 15th, so let’s talk about financial abuse against aging individuals – an issue that costs this population billions of dollars every year.
Common types of Scams Targeting the Aging Population
Along with the pandemic and resulting quarantine, members of our aging population have been isolated more than ever. Many learned how to “Zoom” so they could talk to loved one’s face to face while remaining safe from the spreading virus. Some learned how to shop online for groceries, household products, and other needs. While the aging population got creative, so did the scammers.
AARP.com reports of fraudulent Zoom emails that may tell you that you missed a meeting and your account has been suspended. The victim clicks on the link provided, allowing the scammer to access your computer for personal information for identity theft or login to your personal and financial accounts.
Other technical scams include legitimate-looking online shopping website ads where you click on the ad that brings you to purchase an item, you give them your credit card information and then never receive the item or receive a low quality counterfeit item that did not come from the actual retailer you thought you were purchasing from.
In this situation, scammers pose as potential romantic partners on dating websites taking advantage of an individual’s loneliness.
According to the National Association of Attorneys General website (NAAG.org), the Federal Trade Commission noted that romance scams were the cause of the highest overall financial loss to millions of Americans ages 60 and over at $43.81 million for 2020’s fourth quarter’s three months alone – an increase of 67% from 2019.
This type of scamming activity is from sources that claim to be from legitimate charities or claim that the individual has won a sweepstake and, if they pay a fee, they can collect their winnings.
NAAG.org reports the Federal Trade Commission’s data shows Sweepstakes/Lotteries as the top fraudulent category for the aging population over the age of 80 – taking $7.02 million from this age group in three months alone.
What Should You Do if You are a Victim?
Never click on pop up ads, or links from sources that you did not initiate contact. Getting information from the source is key. It is best to always presume that the source is not legitimate until you are able to verify that it is.
However, despite your best efforts, you may find yourself a victim of financial abuse. The FBI.gov website encourages you to keep as much original documentation as possible and contact your local FBI field office or submit a tip online. You can also reach out to your local police department. They can be very helpful in getting you to the right people to assist you.
When you submit a report, include as much information as possible such as dates of contact, email addresses, phone numbers, etc. of the perpetrator, and descriptions of your interactions with the criminals.
Founded by a nurse attorney and with offices in Acton, Burlington, and Sudbury, Massachusetts, Generations Law Group helps families navigate the complex areas of elder law to inform and protect loved ones of every generation.