The alarming rate of elder fraud
By Marion Somers, PhD
Elder fraud is happening at an alarming rate these days. Why? Unfortunately, the older population is very vulnerable. You have to stay alert to what can happen. The most common scams happen over the phone. Never, ever give your social security number, date of birth, or your mother's maiden name to anyone over the phone. Many scams are perpetrated using these details. Identities are stolen, bank accounts are emptied, and new credit cards are opened and maxed out.
Also, be sure that you don't have any sensitive information out in the open if anyone like a delivery boy or cable guy were to snoop around your home. This includes pin numbers, bank account records, checkbooks, and other important papers. Identity theft can also occur when a thief looks through your trash and finds valuable documents. Always shred old mail and other papers that contain your name, using a crosscut shredder.
Criminals also will knock on the door and pose as utility or cable company employees. They even wear the proper uniform and have fake identification. So never let anyone who shows up unannounced enter your home.
Also beware of phone calls claiming that you have just won a prize that will be sent only after you provide your vital information. Other criminals call and claim to be a charity looking for donations. Never give out any information if they have contacted you first. I have also heard cases of people who pretend to be distant relatives in town for a visit. They stop by, case the house, and then rob you the first chance they get. Finally, remember to be careful when venturing outside the home. Don t carry your social security card, credit cards, or Medicare card with you unless you need them.
A version of this blog appeared on Dr. Marion's Web Site.
Published August 1, 2012