It happens every day. An unsuspecting senior citizen is asked to provide their social security number to ‘validate’ an account to make a donation to a phony charity, or pays a claim fee for ‘winning’ a lottery prize. These are just two types of fraudulent scams con artists often use, but there are many examples of financial elder abuse and it’s widespread. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, seniors throughout the United States lose an estimated $2.6 billion or more annually due to elder financial abuse and exploitation.
At Lakeland Bank, we’re working to help identify and prevent elder financial abuse. In honor of World Elder Abuse Day on June 15, we offer the following tips to share with a senior citizen you know:
- Never give your Social Security number, account numbers or other personal financial information over the phone unless you made the call.
- Don't open e-mails from unknown sources. Beware of any notice claiming you have won a lottery.
- Shred receipts, bank statements and unused credit card offers before you throw them away.
- Review your monthly accounts regularly for any unauthorized charges.
- Order copies of your credit report once a year to ensure accuracy.
- Lock up your checkbook, account statements and other sensitive information when others will be in your home.
- Do business with companies you know are reputable, or first check their references and credentials.
- Beware of any home improvement contractor that comes to your door or tries to sell you services over the phone.
- If a stranger needs to send you payment for something, insist on a check for the exact amount.
- Never accept a check for more and wire the difference back. Never let someone pressure you into agreeing to loan terms before you’ve had a chance to review them in writing with a trusted advisor.
- Report any unusual account inquires you receive; whether by phone or e-mail to your banker, who will take measures to protect your account and notify authorities.
- Carefully choose trustworthy people to act as your agent in all estate-planning matters.
- Talk to your local banker about any financial needs, concerns or questions.