West Bank offices will be closed on Wednesday, June 19 in observance of Juneteenth.

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West Bank offices will be closed on Wednesday, June 19 in observance of Juneteenth.

West Bank offices will be closed on Wednesday, June 19 in observance of Juneteenth.

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The Basics of Elderly Financial Exploitation

Elderly Financial Exploitation

What is Elderly Financial Exploitation?

According to the American Bankers Association, people over the age of 50 control over 70% of the nation’s wealth. Unfortunately, in recent years, scammers have targeted the older population—specifically those aged 60 and above—through various types of fraudulent tactics, also known as elderly financial exploitation. These criminals use tactics such as phone calls, mail or direct contact to scam the elderly population out of billions of dollars nationwide.

Common Elder Fraud Schemes

It’s important to know the various types of schemes these criminals use so you can better detect them. Scammers may pretend to be romantic interests, tech support, children or grandchildren, government officials or even representatives of legitimate charitable organizations, all in an effort to deceive you into giving them money. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by all the methods a criminal may use, but following some basic safety procedures to protect yourself can be a great start.

How to Protect Yourself

While this list is not exhaustive, following these tips can help prevent you from easily falling victim to scammers.

  • Be cautious of unexpected contact. Be wary of unsolicited phone calls and emails from people you do not know. Scammers regularly use these forms of communication to interact personally with their targets.

  • Practice online safety. Do not post all your personal information on the Internet or social media. Scammers can use this information to make themselves seem more legitimate and believable if they were to contact you. In addition to protecting your personally identifiable information, never send money, gift cards, checks or valuables to unverifiable or unknown businesses or people. If you know the scammer has already gained access to your bank account, contact your financial institution immediately to freeze it.

  • Resist the pressure to act quickly when asked for money. Scammers are skilled at creating a sense of urgency to incite fear and persuade victims into acting immediately. Take a step back to evaluate the situation, and if you feel suspicious of the activity, end all communication with the perpetrator.

 

How to Report

Don’t be afraid to file a report if you have fallen victim to a scammer. Realizing you have fallen victim to a financial scam can feel embarrassing, but there are people who are willing to walk through this with you. Tell your financial institution and submit a report to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as outlined below.

If you believe you or someone you know may have been a victim of elder fraud, submit a tip online. If it is an Internet-based fraud, file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center.

When reporting a scam of any dollar amount, try to provide as many details as possible from the following list provided by the FBI:

  • Names of the scammer and/or company
  • Dates of contact
  • Methods of communication
  • Phone numbers, email addresses, mailing addresses, and websites used by the perpetrator
  • Methods of payment
  • Where you sent funds, including wire transfers and prepaid cards (financial institution names, account names, and account numbers)
  • Descriptions of your interaction with the scammer and instructions they gave you

 

Remain vigilant, and do not trust anyone online who you do not know. Be cautious of unexpected contact, practice online safety and do not give into the pressure to act quickly when being asked for money. The first step in protecting yourself against elder fraud is remaining informed and equipped.

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