Guarding against the senior scammers

Two billion dollars and change. That’s what scammers net each year from Americans 50 and older, making it easy to see why the bad guys keep at it. But it is possible to avoid becoming part of the statistics.

Shirley Krohn, former Board member/Chair of the Elder Financial Protection Network and now a volunteer with the organization, outlined both the problem (see post below) and some potential solutions in a recent talk in San Francisco

Krohn was addressing members of the San Francisco Bay Area Network for End of Life Care, but her remarks, and sobering statistics, are worth the attention of those who work with seniors everywhere as well as seniors themselves. So if you’re in that population of people 50 and older — who control 70% of the total net worth in U.S. households — or if you have a friend or loved one in there, it might be worth passing along protective advice.  Some of which, offered by Krohn, includes:

Considering an investment, or insurance? Take it easy. Losses often come because seniors succumb to pressure to act fast. Krohn advises shopping around, getting other opinions, checking with an attorney or financial advisor, making sure everything’s clear and understood, checking securities’ license with the Dept. of Corporations. (Each state has its own such oversight body.)

Computer fraud: That “friend” stranded in London whose passport was stolen? The ubiquitous Nigerian instant-money? The lotteries and grants that seem almost too good to be true? They are. So are the unlimited varieties of unsolicited “bargains.”  Hit the delete button fast.

And… the most common thefts, frauds & scams: Unfortunately, these most often involve people who are trusted and known — caregivers, housekeepers, relatives. Any of these (along with “shoulder surfers” watching you enter PIN numbers at the ATM or dumpster divers making use of things you should’ve shredded) can steal your identity. Frauds and scams can also arrive in the mailbox, over the phone or at the front door. Savvy seniors will greet them with skepticism, using caution and going slowly to avoid becoming a victim.

At least one good thing seniors and those who care about them have going is the Elder Financial Protection Network. Check it out.

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