Safeguarding Against Scams: Financial Frauds Targeting Seniors Can Affect Anyone
To emphasize the importance of Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15, we’re highlighting common financial scams that frequently victimize seniors.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, there were about $440 million in total annual losses for fraud victims over 60 in 2020. And many older adults who experience this fraud very rarely recover any of the money that they lost. While the emphasis is on elder financial exploitation, these scams have the potential to target individuals of all age groups. It’s crucial to stay informed on the latest fraud tactics and to stay vigilant in taking preventative measures to steer clear of fraud.
Top 5 Senior Scams:
SCAM: A fake profile is created on a dating app or social media to lure people in. Typically, the scammer claims they aren’t able to meet in person due to their jobs or being on active duty. They may request money to help bring them state-side.
TIP: Do not send or receive money from an online love interest, which includes buying gift cards, wire transfers, or cryptocurrency.
SCAM: Pretends to be a legitimate business, but has fake ads on legitimate websites or uses a fake website altogether.
TIP: Only click on links you searched for and buy from reputable companies you have shopped from before.
SCAM: Pretends to be a representative of a company that’s often trusted, like Microsoft or Apple, then asks you to download software.
TIP: Do not accept unsolicited tech support help. If you need tech help, only go to someone you know and trust.
SCAM: Someone contacts you to say you’ve won a sweepstakes or the lottery, then asks for your bank account information or asks you to send payment to release your lottery or sweepstakes “winnings.”
TIP: Do not provide bank information or send money to someone if they say you won a lottery or sweepstakes.
SCAM: Pretends to be someone from a trusted government organization, like Social Security or the IRS. He or she may threaten that you will be arrested or they will take legal action unless you agree to send money.
TIP: The government will never call you on the phone to ask for personal information or to threaten you, and they won’t ask for payment by bitcoin or gift cards.
How to Protect Yourself:
- Check financial statements often – You can sign up for online banking to view transactions in real-time.
- Get notified when a transaction posts to your account – Sign up for “Alerts” though online banking.
- Check your credit report – You can request one free report annually from the three agencies. Visit FTC.gov for more info.
- Stop and talk to someone you trust – Before doing anything, talk to someone – a friend, family member, or neighbor.
Fraud & Abuse Resources:
If you feel you have been financially abused, report it immediately. If it is urgent, call 9-1-1, otherwise, help is standing by:
National Elder Fraud Hotline
- Open Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm CST
- English/Spanish/Other Languages Available
Wisconsin Elder Abuse*
WI Elder Abuse Hotline:
Wisconsin Adult Protective Services**
- Outagamie: 920-832-4646, 8am-5pm
- Waupaca: 715-258-6400, 8am-4:30pm
- Winnebago: 877-886-2372, 8am-4:30pm
- After Hours, call 9-1-1
Wolf River Community Bank
Online banking, which is accessible through a computer or a mobile app, offers a real-time view of your finances to check in on potential fraud activity. This allows you to view your banking 24/7/365. You can also set up real-time alerts to get notified of your accounts via text or email. If you need assistance creating your Wolf River Community Bank online banking account, setting up alerts, or are concerned about potential fraud, please contact us at (920) 779-7000. We are here to help.
*Elder is ages 60+
**Adult Protective is ages 18-59 years of age