Elder Abuse & Scams
Today, America’s seniors face numerous threats. Last year alone there were nearly six million cases of elder abuse—with many more unreported. Among the threats to aging Americans is Financial Abuse, a category of abuse that can range from the misuse of funds to embezzlement. Sadly, the perpetrators are often those close to the victim—their own family members, spouse, or caregivers.
Scammers call, claiming you’ve won a sweepstakes. But, to collect your prize, you need to send money to pay for so-called fees and taxes. They also may send a letter claiming you’ve won a lottery and provide a check for you to deposit and send the funds on to pay taxes, etc. Paying to collect a prize is a scam and the check will be fraudulent. Scammers like to ask you to send money by Western Union or MoneyGram, or by purchasing and forwarding a prepaid card or gift card.
Scammers will usually claim to be from the U.S., but are traveling or working overseas, or they plan to visit, but are prevented by a traumatic event or a business deal gone sour. They may also state that they are out of the country for business or military service. Eventually they will need funds for a plane ticket, immigration costs, hospital bills, lawyer fees, etc. and may even want you to send it to a third party. They usually want your online banking credentials to deposit a fraudulent check and request you send the funds to them via gift cards, wires, etc.
You may receive a call from someone claiming to be with Microsoft, Apple, or another tech company who states your computer is infected. Sometimes a pop-up will appear on your computer screen with this message. This is a scam and they will want access to your computer. Once you allow them into your computer, they can access your online banking, install dangerous malware, and more… usually for a fee!
These scammers typically reach out by phone with a few different tactics. Sometimes, they claim to be a Medicare representative and ask to verify (thus essentially stealing) your information. Or they claim that there’s a fee for your new card (there isn’t). Others claim that your Medicare card was compromised, and you need to move your money from your bank into “safer accounts”.
This scam takes place online usually via sites like Craigslist, Facebook, etc. Typically, you will find an offer (either employment or a loan) and they will either send you a fraudulent check either via overnight mail or ask for your online banking credentials to make the deposit. They will then ask you to purchase gift cards, money orders, or wires to send some of the funds back to prove your creditworthiness. Any request for your online banking credentials or request to send money back via any means indicates you are involved in a scam.
Scammers try to trick you into thinking a loved one is in trouble. They ask you to send money immediately. To make their story seem real, they may claim to be an authority figure, such as a lawyer or police officer; they may have or guess at facts about your loved one, often gleaned from social media. These imposters may insist that you keep quiet about their demand for money to keep you from checking out their story. But no matter how real or urgent this seems — it’s a scam. Check it out before you act. Look up that friend or family’s phone number. Call them or another family member to see what’s happening. Even if the person who contacted you told you not to.
If you or a loved one suspect you are being abused, exploited, or scammed, contact your local Adult Protective Services office or local law enforcement. Also, be sure to contact the credit union to inform us of any sensitive information the abuser might have regarding your accounts. You may need to request that we place holds on your services, set a code word on your accounts, enact stop payments, and even change your account numbers to prevent losses.