Protect Your Older Loved Ones from Scams

Physician's Money Digest, November 2005, Volume 12, Issue 15

Older Americans lost $152 millionto con artists last year inscams such as identity theft,lotteries, sweepstakes, and prizes. Of allthe complaints received by the FederalTrade Commission (FTC) in 2004, 41% ofthem were Internet scams, an increasefrom 33% in 2002. The FTC also reportsthat Internet scams were responsible forthe theft of $43 million in 2004. In additionto technology-driven scams, peopleaged 70 and over were defrauded of $35 million last year through more old-fashionedswindles, such as lottery and sweepstakes fraud. Scammers also target septuagenariansand older folks with phony credit card protection or discount drugservices and obtain bank account information via Social Security and Medicarescams. According to Reuters.com, such scams routinely top the FTC's list of consumerfraud, and yet scam artists remain successful in perpetuating a cycle of victimization.How do they do it? Rather than a gun or knife, their weapon of choiceis trust. You can protect yourself and your elderly loved ones with the followingguidelines provided by the US Postal Service:

  • Keep a record of all financial transactions and get deals in writing before actingon an offer.
  • Don't give out credit card or bank account information unless you know withwhom you are dealing.
  • Ask the representative for a phone number to call back. Respectable companiesallow customers time to think about an offer or discuss with trusted friends,family members, or advisors.
  • Report suspicious offers or transactions received by mail to your nearest USpostal inspection service office.