Financial scams have become an increasingly prevalent issue in today’s society. While the internet provides an excellent way to access important resources, it can also be used as a tool for scammers to exploit those who are unaware of the potential risks, especially older individuals. From phone, mail, email, text, or in-person contact, scammers are becoming more sophisticated in their methods of deception, making it all the more necessary to become familiar with the warning signs of financial fraud. Knowing the basics of identifying and avoiding financial scams will help to prevent any fraudsters from accessing your private information.

Government Agency Imposter Scam

If you have received a call, automated message, email, or letter from a government agency claiming that you have been a victim of identity theft, are due a stimulus benefit or government grant award, or owe income taxes, it is best to hang up and verify the information. You can call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 or IRS at 1-800-829-1040 to confirm. Unfortunately, identity theft is on the rise due to more online transactions, so it is important to take proactive steps to safeguard your personal and financial information. Credit and banking alerts are the best way to protect yourself from identity theft and suspicious activity.

Internet and Text Message Phishing Scams

Phishing scams are on the rise in the digital world. Cybercriminals will send an email or text message with malicious software, such as a virus or spyware, to gain access to personal and sensitive information. Many times, the messages are disguised as if they are coming from a secure and trusted source. Additionally, watch out for fake Zoom invitations, as clicking on a link or downloading a file can lead to a scam for log-in information, such as asking for an expired password.

Lottery, Telemarketer, or Sweepstakes Scam

Some scammers may contact you by phone, email, or mailing materials, claiming to give you a chance to make money or that you have won a sweepstake or lottery. The money is usually only available if you provide payment or transfer funds. There are also many other sneaky methods that the scammer may use when attempting this type of scam.

Romance Scam

Romance scams are common among individuals who use online dating platforms and apps. Scammers often create fake profiles, establishing a trusting relationship with their victims. After a while, they request money to be sent in the form of wire transfers, gift cards, or gift purchases. This should be taken as a warning sign that the person one is speaking with may be a scammer.

Family Emergency Scam/ Kidnapping Scam

A scammer may try to contact you, pretending to be a beloved grandchild or child and asking you for money due to a supposed emergency. They may even go as far as claiming they have kidnapped a family member. The scammer could already have the name of your loved one, or you may give out names and other information during the call. To protect yourself from this type of scam, make sure you confirm the identity of the caller by contacting the organization, company or family members they are allegedly in trouble with.

Financial Exploitation by Family or Trusted Individual

Financial exploitation by someone close or trusted is becoming more frequent due to financial difficulties. Elderly persons and those with disabilities are especially prone to this sort of scam, which can be carried out by a child, grandchild, caretaker, neighbor, or friend. The perpetrator takes advantage of their relationship of trust to take cash and assets from the victim, who may be manipulated for years and have difficulty getting support from other family members or government agencies. Elder financial exploitation has become even more prevalent due to the increased isolation brought on by the pandemic, making it easier for abusers to continue their activities unnoticed.