Every year, many seniors fall victim to financial scams. As this sector of the population grows older, many are accumulating more wealth and assets, making scammers see them as a potential target. With elder financial abuse being a staggering multi-billion dollar issue each year, it’s important to know what precautions to take to help protect yourself or your loved ones.
Tips on Protecting Yourself
Be aware that you are at risk. The most important thing to remember is that you are at risk from strangers and those close to you. Reports show that over 90% of reported abuse is committed by someone the victim knows or by a family member, most often their adult children.
Use direct deposit if available. Opting to use direct deposit instead of paper checks helps ensure funds go directly into your account and are protected. This reduces the risk of checks getting lost or stolen and prevents the opportunity for it to be taken if seen somewhere inside your residence.
Monitor your accounts. Check your bank accounts often and monitor them for any suspicious activity. If you notice something that doesn’t seem right or you think you’ve been scammed, contact your bank right away.
Did you know First Bank can help you monitor your bank account balances through email and text alerts for your Savings and Checking accounts?
Shred documents before throwing them away. If you have documents you no longer need or want, such as receipts, bank statements, or unused credit card offers, consider shredding them before throwing them away or adding to your recycling container. Shredding important documents makes it harder for criminals to find information contained in the documents and use it to their advantage.
Stay involved. Being isolated is a huge risk factor for elder abuse. A common practice of self-isolation some older adults adopt is withdrawing from the larger community. Some seniors self-isolate for the fear of being victimized if they venture out, or if they lose their ability to drive or walk without assistance. Visit the Eldercare Locator for information on services and activities near you.
Trust your instincts. Fraudsters are very skilled and can appear to be charming or forceful when trying to gain access to your finances. If something doesn’t feel right, then it probably isn’t.
As elder financial abuse is expected to climb over the coming years, it’s important to be alert and report suspicious activity. As always, feel free to reach out to our trusted representatives at First Bank to discuss any questions you may have regarding your account by calling the First Bank Service Center at 800-760-2265, your local branch, or by scheduling an appointment.
Sources: National Council on Aging, American Bankers Association