Financial fraud among our senior population is a growing crime in America. According to the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA), one in nine seniors reported being abused, neglected or exploited over the past year. Unfortunately this crime is underreported, primarily because people may not realize they are being abused, or they’re embarrassed about it. No matter your age there are ways that you can protect yourself and and those you care about from being a victim of fraud.
Prepare and secure important documents and information.
Put together an Estate Plan and Living Will with a trusted financial advisor or attorney to protect all your assets. Don’t leave anything to chance.
Keep all personal financial information secure.
Never leave receipts, bank statements or credit card offers (or even your checkbook) lying around your home. You should shred receipts or documents before throwing them away. Don’t ever give personal financial information to anyone over the phone or online unless you’ve initiated the call and the receiver is a trusted source.
Know your credit.
Review your credit report at least once a year. You can order one at annualcreditreport.com. If you don’t understand something on your report, or if you believe something is incorrect, contact the credit bureau immediately.
Be aware of scams.
Con artists are skilled at taking advantage of others and they often target elderly adults. Here are some common scams that have been reported to the authorities:
- Lottery and Sweepstakes Scam: “You’ve won $1 million! Send $2,000 to cover your taxes.”
- Home Repair Scams: “You need a new roof and we’re here to help. Pre-pay for our service, and we’ll get you set up right away.”
- Jail Scam: “This is Officer Jones. Your grandson was put in jail last night and his bail is $1,000. If you give me your account information, we’ll take out the funds immediately for his quick release.”
- False Charity Scam (commonly occurs after disasters): “We’re collecting funds to help those affected by the recent tornado in your area. Simply give me your account information, and I can take care of a much needed donation over the phone.”
Hire with confidence.
Be sure to check all references, certifications and other credentials before you hire anyone, and never allow direct access to information about your finances. If possible, pay for any services given with a debit or credit card instead of cash. That way you’ll leave a paper trail should something happen.
Don’t rush to any financial decisions.
You have the right to understand the details of any financial transaction you make. Ask as many questions as you want.
Trust your instincts.
If something doesn’t feel right, or you feel pressured in any way, get out of it. Never say “yes” to something you either don’t fully understand or don’t want to do.
If you feel you’ve been a victim of financial fraud, or if you think someone you know may be a victim, contact BancorpSouth immediately at 1-888-797-7711.
© Fintactix, LLC 2017