Financial scams have become commonplace and quite elaborate in recent years. Most knowledgeable, tech-savvy adults are able to identify scams easily, but the elderly continue to be abused and robbed on a regular basis.
In fact, according to the Investor Protection Trust, almost one in five Americans over the age of 65 (nearly seven million seniors) have been taken advantage of financially, either by an inappropriate investment, unreasonable high fees for financial services or fraud. Elder financial abuse is big problem in the U.S. but there are steps that seniors can take to protect themselves.
1. If it’s too good to be true, it usually is. The emails and telemarketing scams typically start with a well-meaning and trusting victim that gets deceived. You should be skeptical of all “too good to be true” offers.
2. Keep personal information private. Never give out credit card, banking, social security or other personal information over the phone unless you initiated the call. All personal information should be kept private unless giving it to a trusted source.
3. Shred unwanted personal information. Do you own a shredder? Bank statements, credit card statements, receipts and other personal financial information should be shredded immediately after use. People who come into an older person’s home can steal personal information or dig through the older person’s garbage to get this information.
4. Don’t buy from an unfamiliar company. If the product or service you are buying is unfamiliar, you should research the company first before providing payment. If the person tries to rush you into a decision, that could be a red flag.
5. Ask for written verification. If someone calls you about an offer or charity, always ask for and wait until they receive written material. Ask for specific information about the salesperson, including name, business identity, telephone number, address and business license number before conducting business.
Apply these tips to your daily communications and practices and dramatically cut your chances of becoming a victim of financial disaster.
Davis & Hodgdon Associates CPAs is a full-service public accounting firm with offices in Williston and Rutland Vermont. The firm has served clients in the Burlington and Rutland metro areas and beyond for more than 25 years by providing progressive, proactive services through expert staff, sophisticated technology, and unparalleled efficiency. For more information please call 802.878.1963 (Williston) or 802.775.7132 (Rutland) or email [email protected].
Tips from the AICPA, June 7, 2016