Intercepting Senior Fraud – “The Crime of the Century”

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posted by Ted Ryan on October 02, 2013

Recently, the reality of senior fraud hit home as I learned that several SHC clients have been receiving an alarming amount of junk mail and telemarketing calls. Luckily, our trained caregivers intercepted the behavior by reporting their concerns before anyone fell victim to a scam.

We’ve all heard that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Here are a few other tips for spotting and reporting scams.

  • Never pay to receive a prize or enter a sweepstakes. It’s illegal to require purchase for entry.
  • Don’t play a foreign lottery. Any lottery involving a foreign country and conducted through the mail is illegal.
  • Legitimate charities don’t ask for donations in conjunction with a contest.
  • Don’t make immediate decisions. Get all information in writing before agreeing to enter a contest, make a purchase or give a donation.
  • Don’t offer personal information unless you have initiated the contact.
  • If you are not familiar with the organization or person that is contacting you, do some research – find a physical address, phone number, get reviews.
  • Never wire (or send) money to strangers or anyone who claims to be a relative or friend in an emergency but asks to keep the request secret. Wired money is nearly impossible to reverse or trace.

What To Do

Unfortunately, once you’re on a fraud mailing list, it’s difficult to get off because lists and names are regularly traded and sold among scammers. Learn about your privacy options and reduce unnecessary junk mail and incoming calls through the following avenues:

  • Do Not Call Registry – register online or by phone at 1-888-382-1222 to reduce telemarketing calls.
  • Stop unsolicited credit and insurance offers by calling 1-888-567-8688 or going online.
  • The Direct Marketing Association’s Mail Preference Services allow you to opt out of receiving direct mail from many companies for five years by registering online.

Report suspected mail fraud to the U.S. Postal Inspector Service, at 1-877-876-2455, then throw the mail away. You may also learn more or file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission online or toll-free at 1-877-382-4357.

Financial scams that target seniors are a real concern. Whether you’re a leery senior or a concerned loved one, it’s important to know what to look for and do. If you have any further questions, please give us a call. We’re here to help.

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