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Law Office of Brian S. Karpe Canton Estate Planning & Probate Lawyer
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Tips For Preventing Elder Fraud And Identity Theft In Connecticut

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Alison’s mom, Irene, is complaining that she constantly receives telemarketer calls all day and night. Now Irene says the Social Security Administration called telling her she had to update her bank account information with them or her social security check would not be sent for that month. Irene did as the caller said, explaining what happened to Alison after the fact. After that phone call, Irene’s bank account was drained by the scammer purporting to be the SSA, and Alison had to accompany Irene to the bank to close the compromised checking account and open a new one.  Unfortunately, this is not just a hypothetical, but a common occurrence. Elder fraud and identity theft is on the rise throughout the U.S. and abroad, but with vigilance, you can prevent an event like this from happening to your elderly parents or loved ones.

Another scam that is prevalent is Irene receives a telephone call from a child or grandchild in dire need of funds.  Sometimes the caller claims the money is for bail to be released from jail or a tax issue in which their home or business will be foreclosed, and Irene must hurry down to the bank before it closes to wire money to the caller.

Be Aware of Scams 

One of the most important defenses to potential fraud schemes is recognizing elder fraud when you see it. Some of the most common scams targeting the elderly use fake callers or fake emails pretending to be a government entity (such as the IRS), utility, merchandiser, or computer technician. The scammer will threaten legal or financial action, or computer technical issues if the receiving caller does not provide bank account or credit card information over the phone. Other scammers might pretend to represent a charity or non-profit organization soliciting donations from unsuspecting victims.

Another prevalent scam is an elderly person receives a telephone call from a supposed family member in need of funds for a jail bond, an immediate tax issue, a creditor demanding money before foreclosing on a home, or some other emergency. The telephone caller pleads with the elderly person to hurry down to the bank and wire funds to the purported authority or family member.  Often times the caller has obtained information such as the elderly person’s grandchild and that person is a convincing actor.  These scammers are very convincing and many elderly fall prey to this scam.

Explain to your loved one that they should never provide their personal health information or personal identifiable information over the phone or email to an unsolicited caller, no matter how convincing they sound.  Similarly, they should never provide financial information and credit card numbers over the email or telephone.  Also, they should never rush down to a bank to withdraw funds to help a family member in need without checking to see if the call is legitimate.

In addition, teach them about screening phone calls, not picking up the phone if it is a number they do not recognize or if caller ID identifies the caller as “potential spam”. 

Inform Seniors and Elderly Parents of Internet Safety 

Elder fraud scams are not exclusive to harassing phone calls. Criminals and would-be scammers continue to adapt and take advantage of people of all ages via phishing and other internet scams. Explain to loved ones how to properly use email. This means not sending personal identifiable information (PII) or financial information in the body of an email message, not responding to messages from senders they do not recognize and reporting spam when they see it. In addition, everyone should be updating their passwords on a frequent basis, using different passwords for different websites, and refraining from writing passwords down, especially for finances. Verifying a site address is secure before entering payment information or online shopping is also crucial to protect sensitive banking information like credit card numbers. Teach your loved ones not to click on pop-up ads, unknown links in emails, or download free software they do not recognize. Consider enabling two-factor authentication when logging into email and banking sites as an extra layer of security. Most importantly, check in with your elderly loved ones on a regular basis to ensure they are doing okay and to reinforce internet and phone safety tips. 

Contact Canton Elder Fraud Prevention Attorney Brian Karpe

Elder fraud and identity theft are on the rise in Connecticut and elsewhere, and no one is immune. Elderly loved ones with a cognitive disorder such as dementia or Alzheimer’s are especially vulnerable. If you are concerned about your loved one and believe a financial conservatorship is a viable option, or you need assistance with elder fraud prevention, contact Canton elder law attorney Brian S. Karpe. With decades of experience serving the elder community, Attorney Karpe is dedicated to providing tailored solutions for his clients and protecting them against elder fraud. Call today to schedule a consultation.

Resource:

portal.ct.gov/DCP/Common-Elements/Common-Elements/Resources-to-Help-You-Stay-Safe-Online

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