Financial scams are a risk for everyone. They come in a broad array of scenarios, by telephone, by mail, by computer, and at the front door. Older people are attractive targets for scammers because they are likely to have savings and are likely to be more trusting of others. Vulnerable adult victims of financial scams are unlikely ever to be able to make up the lost dollars. And like financial exploitation in general, victims of scams suffer consequences beyond irreplaceable money. Physical health, emotional well-being, care and housing often suffer too.
The federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a watchdog agency that issues many resources to combat financial exploitation and scams, especially those that target vulnerable populations.
- Someone who pretends to be a family member or friend calls or e-mails you to say they are in trouble and need you to wire money right away.
- You get a call or letter that seems to be from a government agency. Scammers say that if you give a credit card number or send a money order, you can apply for government help with housing, home repairs, utilities, or taxes.
- Scammers take money for repairs and then they never return to do the work or they do bad work. Sometimes they break something to create more work or they say that things need work when they don’t.
- Scammers send letters or e-mails that look like they are from a legitimate bank, business, or agency to try to get your personal information or bank account number.
- Scammers steal personal information—such as a name, date of birth, Social Security number, account number, and mother’s maiden name—and use the information to open credit cards or get a mortgage in someone else’s name.
Type of Financial Scams
Relative in need
Fake “official” mail
If an elder or vulnerable adult is in crisis or danger, call 911.
- A victim receives mail or email for sweepstakes, contests or other sources suggesting that he or she has already been scammed.
- The victim is pressured to keep “good” news a secret until a transaction is complete or risk losing out on this one-time opportunity.
- A caller constantly seeks more information and pressures the victim to comply.
- A third party claims to be from a government agency, financial institution or other entity and asks for personal information and numbers.
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