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Protecting Senior Citizens Against Fraud

Why are the elderly such an attractive target for con artists?

  • Many seniors have a “nest egg.”
  • They’re less likely to report a fraud because they don’t know where to go or they’re too embarrassed to talk about it.
  • If they do report the crime, it’s sometimes hard for them to remember exact details.
  • Many of the products/services being hawked by con artists appeal to individuals of a certain age—i.e., anti-aging and other health care products, health care services, and investments related to retirement savings.

The threat to seniors is growing…and changing.  Baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) are now the largest segment of our population—about 78 million people. That means that the number of senior citizens is rising. Many younger boomers also have considerable computer skills, so criminals are modifying their targeting techniques—using not only traditional telephone calls and mass mailings but also online scams like phishing and e-mail spamming.

Another trend: Criminals targeting the elderly are increasingly located outside the U.S., making it difficult for American law enforcement to track them down.

The scams. Some common ones to look out for:
  • Identity theft (accomplished through “dumpster diving,” phishing, address changes, old-fashioned theft);
  • Health insurance frauds (medical equipment, “rolling lab” schemes, Medicare fraud, counterfeit prescription drugs);
  • Home repair schemes;
  • Foreign lottery/sweepstakes fraud;
  • Advance fee/credit card frauds;
  • Investment fraud; and
  • Charity schemes.
A few basic tips to avoid being victimized:
  • Shred credit card receipts and old bank statements;
  • Close unused credit card or bank accounts;
  • Don’t give out personal information via the phone, mail, or Internet unless you initiated the contact;
  • Never respond to an offer you don’t understand;
  • Talk over investments with a trusted friend, family member, or financial advisor;
  • Require all plans and purchases to be in writing; and
  • Don’t pay in advance for services.

Who to call. If you’re a senior citizen who has been victimized by fraud, start by calling your local or state law enforcement agency.

The FBI doesn’t handle isolated individual cases: we get involved only when there are huge dollar losses or if there’s evidence of an international crime ring at work. But you can report fraud online to us through our Internet Crime Complaint Center, which is run in concert with the National White Collar Crime Center, and we’ll refer it to the proper authorities.

See our common frauds webpage for seniors for more details on the scams and prevention tips.

     This information provided by the FBI. Visit their webpage for more information:  http://www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/fraud/seniors



How to File a Complaint


Why: Your complaints can help us detect patterns of wrong-doing, and lead to investigations and prosecutions. The FTC enters all complaints it receives into Consumer Sentinel, a secure online database that is used by thousands of civil and criminal law enforcement authorities worldwide. The FTC does not resolve individual consumer complaints

Federal Trade Commission - Protecting America's Consumers
File a Complaint:  https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/


Scams To Watch Out For

Better Business Bureau - Start With Trust
Alerts/Scams Archive:  http://www.bbb.org/blog/category/alertsscams/


Protect Yourself, Protect Your Future

Now more than ever, seniors need information to help them with financial and health care decisions, and that will protect them against scam artists and predators.  Nationwide, as many as 5,000,000 seniors fall victim to financial abuse each year.  
 
This website is a clearinghouse for helpful information on consumer protection, financial matters, health care issues and veterans' services.  It provides links to a wide variety of state and federal programs to help make informed decisions that can benefit you and your family.
 
The Senior Brigade also features a statewide calendar of events, sorted by categories, so you can easily locate items of interest to you and at a location near you.  The calendar even allows you to post your own events, so others can join in.
 
You can also obtain free brochures to learn more about how to protect yourself and your loved ones.  This site even allows you to report if someone is being abused or neglected at a resident care facility.
 
You are invited to tour the website. The information offered through Michigan.gov/SeniorBrigade is intended to safeguard you, your family, and your assets.
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