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How to Avoid Financial Scams in Your Golden Years

How to Avoid Financial Scams in Your Golden Years

March 01, 2024

In 2023, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reported an increase of 84 percent in total losses to seniors from the previous year due to financial fraud. As you or your loved ones enter their golden years, it's crucial to ensure their financial security by becoming educated on the latest scam tactics and the potential risks to your identity and finances. Here, we’ll shed light on common scams and provide practical tips for avoiding them, so that you and the older adults in our lives feel empowered to protect their well-earned savings and peace of mind.

Understanding Common Scams

To effectively prevent financial scams, it's crucial to be aware of the most common types:

Phone Scams: Fraudsters often pose as government officials, charities or your financial institution claiming that urgent action or donations are required.

Email Scams: Commonly known as phishing, seniors may receive emails asking for personal information or posing as trusted organizations.

Investment Fraud: Scammers promise high returns on investments that are too good to be true, preying on seniors' desire for financial security.

Home Improvement Scams: Scammers offer cheap repairs or improvements, taking payment upfront and never delivering the promised services.

Romance Scams: Online romance scams involve building emotional connections to manipulate seniors into sending money or personal information.

Identifying Red Flags

Scams often come with warning signs that shouldn’t be ignored. If a suspicious call, text or email have these qualities, think first and act carefully:

Too Good to Be True: Offers that promise unrealistically high returns or benefits.

Pressure Tactics: Scammers often use high-pressure sales tactics or threats to manipulate victims.

Request for Personal Information: Never share sensitive information over the phone or online to people you don’t know or trust.
Payment Requests: If someone insists on wire transfers or gift cards as payment, it's likely a scam.

Strengthening Your Online Security

As the age of adults using the internet increases, protecting your online information becomes even more important. Here are some tips you can implement to safeguard your personal information and finances:

Use Strong Passwords: Always use a complex mix of letters, numbers and special characters, as well as unique passwords for each online account you have.

Enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): Activate MFA whenever possible to add an extra layer of security. This can be one-time codes to a verified phone number or email, authenticator apps or security questions.

Verify Emails: It’s important to carefully verify email senders and avoid clicking on suspicious links or downloading attachments. Look out for any inconsistencies or suspicious requests like an unknown or unfamiliar sender, urgent requests, typos in emails, etc.

Install Security Software: Ensure your devices have up-to-date antivirus and anti-malware software to protect you from security vulnerabilities.

Keeping Personal Information Secure

In addition to online security, we also advocate for careful handling of personal information. Scams and fraud can also take place in person and by people you know.

Shredding Documents: Encourage the use of a shredder to dispose of documents with personal or financial data.

Safe Storage: Store important documents, such as passports and Social Security cards, in a secure location.

Guard Financial Information: Keep financial statements and checkbooks out of sight.

Regularly check in to discuss your financial situation and any unusual interactions or requests for money with someone you trust. Having a designated trusted family, friend or advisor who can assist with financial decisions can prevent your finances from falling into the wrong hands. If you ever need to verify a suspicious request, contact your CSB banker or branch directly. If you fall victim to financial fraud, contact law enforcement immediately. Remember, prevention is the best defense against financial scams.

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