How criminals target seniors
Criminals target anyone with money and trust. Seniors generally have more in savings, assets, and cash. Plus they have good credit and own their own home. Recent estimates say that 67% of seniors are targeted for scams every year.
Individuals who grew up in the 1930's, 1940's, and 1950's were generally raised to be polite and trusting. Criminals will exploit these traits knowing that it is difficult for some individuals to say "no" or just hang up the phone.
Common scams against seniors include
"Free Lunch" Seminar:
The lunch seminars usually involve sales pitches promising annual investment returns of 10% or more.
Some claim that "you can retire early" with these investment payoffs. The Securities Division advises seniors to be wary of any "free lunch" seminars, especially those involving promises of high interest rates and annuity investments. Many promoted annuities have high penalties for early withdrawal of funds and also pay large bonuses in the first year only.
Seniors are frequent targets of Medicare schemes, especially by medical equipment manufacturers who offer seniors free medical products in exchange for their Medicare number.
In the bank examiner scam, con artists pose as FBI agents, bank examiners, police officers, detectives or bank officials.
These con artists contact you, pretending to need your help to conduct an investigation.
As a valued bank customer or upstanding citizen, you are asked to withdraw money and hand it over. They promise to redeposit it or return the money to you after they have completed their investigation. Of course, you never see your money again.
Lottery and Sweepstakes:
Criminals will send e-mails or letters, or even call you claiming you've won something big. But there is a catch. Before you can collect your winnings, you have to pay something upfront.
This is called an Advance Fee Fraud. Criminals will take your money, but you will never get anything in return. No real lottery or sweepstakes will ask for money up front. The National Crime Prevention Council says that fraudulent telemarketers direct up to 80% of their calls to seniors.
Child Identity Theft Tips
Child identity theft happens when someone uses a minor child's personal information to commit fraud. A thief may steal and use a child's personal information to get a job, government benefits, medical care, utilities, car loans or even a mortgage. A thief who steals a child's information may use it for many years before the crime is discovered. The victim may only learn of the theft when applying for their own student loans or credit. Avoiding, discovering and undoing the damage resulting from the theft of a child's identity can be a challenge.
Protecting and safeguarding your child's information
Keep all information locked up
Share your child's social security number with only trusted people
Ensure you have a secure connection, if sharing personal information on the computer
Use updated antivirus and firewall protection
If using passwords to sign into a website, log out of the site when you are done
Safely dispose of personal information
Shred letters, forms and other papers that include personal information
Delete electronic computer files that you no longer need and empty out your online trash bin
Delete any personal or financial information on a cell phone before disposing of it
Share Safety Tips with your child
Use strong passwords
Keep passwords private
Know the risk of sharing files through peer to peer software
Be alert to phishing scams
Warning signs of Child identity theft
Calls from Collection agencies
Denied government benefits
IRS or Social Security Administration notifies you that your child social security number is being used by someone
Your child receives notice from the IRS that their taxes have not been paid
Check your child's credit report
The law requires Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion to give you a free copy of your credit report each year - Visit http://www.annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228 for your free copy
Money Wiring Scams
Wiring money is like sending cash. Do not wire money to people you do not know. Most money wiring scams look like this:
Someone you do not know asks you to wire money
A scammer might use different ways to convince you to wire money. The scammer might say:
You won a prize, or inherited money, but you have to pay fees first
You won the lottery, but you have to pay some taxes first
A friend or family member is in trouble and needs you to send money to help
You need to pay for something you just bought online before they send it
You got a check for too much money and need to send back the extra
These are all tricks. When you hear stories like these, you have spotted a money wiring scam.
Scammers are good at being friendly. They also are good at fooling people. Here is how you can stop a scammer:
Never wire money to someone you do not know.
Never wire money because someone contacted you: even if you feel like you know the person or if the person says he is your friend or related to you.
If you sent money to someone who contacted you, report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Call the FTC at 1-877-382-4357 Go online: ftc.gov/complaint
The FTC uses complaints to build cases against scammers. Any information you can give helps investigators.