Five Tips to Protect Seniors from Financial Scams Right Now
Special to The Truth
Social isolation among
seniors is not only linked to numerous negative health
consequences like depression and cardiovascular disease, but
it’s also a primary contributing factor in financial
exploitation and scams. Estimated to affect one in 10 older
adults and cost billions annually, the threat of elder
financial fraud is pervasive, and especially so right now.
With seniors more isolated
than ever due to the pandemic and stimulus checks being sent
to millions of Americans nationwide, experts suggest that
seniors and their families be extra vigilant.
“Scammers look for key
time periods where money and private financial information
are in motion. Not only is IRS fraud one of the most common
and successful types of scams that exists, as a general
rule, additional money equates to additional fraud,” says
Ron Long, head of Aging Client Services at Wells Fargo.
“Scammers are banking on
the fact that many seniors are apart from families and
friends due to COVID-19. When someone is alone, physically
or socially, they often miss out on the added benefit of a
second pair of eyes and ears.”
Compounding the risks
associated with isolation is the number of seniors who feel
their chances of falling victim to a financial scam is
unlikely. According to a recent Wells Fargo study conducted
by The Harris Poll, 69 percent of all seniors age 60 and
above believe they’re not likely to be susceptible to a
financial scam, despite nearly all seniors (97 percent)
acknowledging that older people are very or somewhat
susceptible to becoming a victim. When asked about their
peers, the poll found that 47 percent of all seniors knew
someone who had already fallen victim to a scam.
“The results indicate what
most of us want -- the ability to age relatively unaffected
from the realities associated with aging,” says Dr. Marti
DeLiema, a gerontologist and consultant for Wells Fargo’s
Aging Client Services. “The problem is that when someone
doesn’t feel they’re at risk, they’re unlikely to take
To better protect seniors
from elder financial fraud and abuse, consider these tips
from Wells Fargo:
1. Don’t wait for a
crisis. Seniors should speak with trustworthy family members
about financial plans, as well as consult them when
something doesn’t feel right.
2. Stay up-to-date.
Seniors and families should draft and periodically update
legal documents such as wills, healthcare directives and
powers of attorney.
3. Automate. Seniors
should consider signing up for direct deposit, automatic
bill pay and large transaction alerts.
4. Prioritize security.
Seniors should keep checks and credit cards locked away, and
update passwords when information is compromised. They
should also carefully review credit reports, account
statements and bills for unusual activity or charges.
5. Be aware. Families can
help seniors stay aware of the latest and most common scams,
as well as help them identify potential red flags,
• Alleged emergency
situations involving family members, often grandchildren,
requiring immediate payment.
• Lottery winnings
requiring upfront cash payment for taxes and other fees.
• Phone calls from alleged
government agencies, such as Social Security, threatening
arrest or penalties.
For more information on
fraud prevention, visit wellsfargo.com.
requires planning ahead and not shying away from difficult
conversations,” says Long. “We have to talk with our older
loved ones about the risks, the warning signs and prevention
-- and we have to keep talking.”