Avoiding Scams and Fraud

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Fraud, Identity Theft and Senior Citizens
It is important to remember that anyone can be a victim of fraud and identity theft - even children. However, criminals typically target senior citizens with most types of scams. Why?
  • First ... criminals perceive that seniors have a large source of income born out of savings, pensions, social security income and ownership of a home.
  • Second ... no matter what their financial status, seniors are often tempted by financial scams due to the fear that they will outlive their savings.
  • Finally ... seniors are often available at home during the day to answer the phone or door, and are unlikely to hang up or close the door on a scam artists - even if they suspect fraud.
Should I Report it to Law Enforcement?
Yes. All of these types of fraud are high-pressure (especially when they come in the form of phone calls), are almost always unexpected, and should all be reported to law enforcement.

How Does Fraud Occur?
While some fraud occurs in person such as with a door-to-door salesperson, con artists take advantage of different types of media such as mail, e-mail, the internet, and the telephone to approach their victims. Financial fraud can appear in the form of direct marketing or charity solicitation (someone asking for money), "deals of a lifetime" (sweepstakes or lottery offers, fake investment opportunities, reverse mortgages, or other "deals"), pleas to help someone in a foreign country by transferring funds, or even someone calling to say you have missed jury duty!

What is Identity Theft?
Identify theft refers to "all types of crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person's personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain." There are many methods in which criminals obtain your personal information. Among them are mail theft, malware and computer viruses, skimming credit cards, stealing wallets, and good old fashioned "shoulder surfing." While most criminals who steal identities do so for financial gain, others steal identities to take advantage of the victim's criminal history or even medical benefits. If you have medical benefits, you are a potential target for medical identity theft.

You CAN Protect Yourself
The first step to avoid becoming a victim of scams and identity theft is to acknowledge that anyone, no matter what his or her age or financial status, can be approached by a con artist. Everyone should learn
to recognize the signs of a scam, and take the appropriate steps to educate himself on ways to handle the situation.

Prevent Fraud and Identity Theft
For tips on how to avoid being a victim of fraud and identity theft, visit the Safety Tips section on Fraud, Scams, and Identity Theft Prevention. For additional resources about scams and identity theft, including information on how to receive your free credit report by mail, visit the Federal Trade Commission online
or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).