One in five individuals in the U.S. is currently age 60 or above, and one in 13 will be a victim of financial exploitation. This can easily be avoided, if you know what to look for. Here are seven tips Community Bank would like you to keep in mind.
1. Be aware that you are at risk from strangers—and from those closest to you.
Over 90 percent of all reported elder financial fraud is committed by the person’s own family members, most often their adult children or grandchildren. Common tactics include depleting a joint checking account, promising but not delivering care in exchange for money or property, and outright theft.
2. Always tell solicitors: “I never buy from (or give to) anyone who calls or visits me unannounced. Send me something in writing.”
Do not buy from an unfamiliar company and always ask for and wait until you receive written material about any offer or charity. It is also good practice to obtain a salesperson’s name, business identity, telephone number, street address and mailing address before you conduct business.
3. Shred all documents with personal financial information.
Identity theft is a huge business. To protect yourself, use a document shredder to destroy any old documents with financial information. If you do not have a shredder, you can also bring your documents to one of our annual shredding events at Community Bank.
4. Use direct deposit to prevent benefit checks from being stolen out of your mailbox.
Using direct deposit ensures that checks go right into your account and are protected. Clever scammers have been known to steal benefit checks right out of mailboxes or from seniors’ homes.
5. Never give your credit card, banking or Social Security numbers over the phone unless you initiated the call.
Scammers posing as telemarketers or government agencies have been known to dupe seniors into giving their debit card numbers and PINs over the phone. This is a scam. Banks, credit card issuers and government agencies will never contact you asking for personal details such as debit card numbers or PINS.
6. Protect your Medicare information.
Misuse of Medicare dollars is one of the largest scams involving seniors. Common schemes include billing for services never delivered and selling unneeded devices or services to beneficiaries. Protect your Medicare number as you do your credit card, banking, and Social Security numbers and do not allow anyone else to use it. Be wary of salespeople trying to sell you something they claim will be paid for by Medicare.
7. Be skeptical of all unsolicited offers and thoroughly do your research.
Be an informed consumer. Take the time to call and shop around before making a purchase. Also feel free to ask a trusted friend or family member for advice. As a general rule, do not allow yourself to be pressured into making purchases or signing contracts. These decisions are yours and yours alone.
If you would like to talk about protecting your financial security, feel free stop in or call Community Bank at 708.660.1000.