Understanding and Preventing Financial Exploitation
Cons, scams, sweepstakes, and identity theft are some examples of financial fraud and have been the tools of swindlers for quite some time. Those who would attempt to take money that is not theirs have been developing new and creative ways to ply their devious trade with each emerging technology and generation. Those who live by fraud will always prey upon the most vulnerable demographic to maximize their chance of victory.
True Link Financial has determined three areas of fraud; financial exploitation, criminal fraud, and caregiver abuse. Financial exploitation requires a person to provide consent, often misleading victims with phony financial advice, pyramid scheme, bogus bargain products, and computer tech support scams. Computer tech support scams have recently become popular, and involves individuals being told their computer has a virus and the “technician” (scammer) needs to log in and check the computer. The computer is then opened to any number of issues including malware, identity theft and/or other scam tactics.
Criminal fraud includes grandparent scam (where an individual is told their grandchild or relative has been arrested in a foreign country), Nigerian Prince scam (when an individual sends a small amount of money for the promise of a larger amount later), sweetheart scam (where money is wired to a new love) and identity theft.
Caregiver abuse is the third most common form of financial fraud. This fraud involves deceit and/or theft enabled by a trusted relationship, either from a relative, assistant, lawyer, accountant or friend. This fraud has reached epidemic proportions as older Americans are less likely to report a fraud than others within our population. Individuals may not know where to report their fraud, they may be too ashamed that they had been caught in a scam, or they may not even realize that it has occurred.
Individuals that have been found to be at the greatest risk of fraud attempts are those with a source of vulnerability combined with a source of exposure. Other exposure factors are thrifty seniors who are searching for a bargain, financially sophisticated seniors who are comfortable making financial decisions, and younger/urban seniors that are more likely to interact with strangers and be active.
Here are some tips to protect yourself from fraud:
1. Never Give Out Financial, Social Security, Medicare or Computer Information, Etc. Unless You Have Initiated A Call.
2. Always Ask For and Wait Until You Receive Written Information about Offers or Charities.
3. “JUST SAY NO!” To Pushy Marketers
4. Check The Fine Print On Offers (Shipping And Handling Costs)
5. Never Send Money Today For The Offer Of More Tomorrow.
6. Do Not Pay For Services In Advance; Only After They Are Delivered
7. Do Not Sign Anything You Do Not Understand
8. Always Take Your Time Making A Financial Decision
9. There Is No Free Lunch And Do Not Pay For A “FREE” Prize
10. “Your Best Defense Is To Ignore Them All!”
If you feel you have been a victim of fraud, there are a number of resources available to you. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has developed a Securities Helpline for Seniors, (844) 574-3577 or online at http://www.finra.org. They review investment account statements and assist in accessing investor tools and resources and assist with lost securities. Another resources include The Financial Crimes Division of the Secret Service which deals with advance fee fraud and other financial systems crimes, The US Postal Inspection Service which deals with cases of mail fraud, FraudAid is a non-profit fraud victim advocacy program with a Scam Victim Solution Center available at http://www.fraudaid.com. AARP and local, state and federal law enforcement agencies are all resources available for reporting and investigating senior exploitation as well.
The Glasgow Police Department is ready and willing to assist in reporting and investigating any potential incidents of fraud in our area. We are always available and “Committed to Community”.