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3 Ways to Protect Against Elder Financial Fraud

A little extra education and vigilance can go a long way


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According to the AARP Public Policy Institute, one in five elderly Americans are victims of financial exploitation each year.

The continued development of technology is making these attacks more frequent, sophisticated and believable. Whether it’s a phone call from someone posing as a grandchild asking for money or an email scam from a so-called expert in another country offering investment opportunities, fraudulent financial scams are causing thousands of elderly Americans to lose their hard-earned money every year.

To protect yourself and loved ones against elder fraud, consider these three tips.

  1. AVOID UNKNOWN EMAILS

An easy way for scammers to gain access to your financial information is through a virus on your computer, so avoid clicking on links from email addresses that are not familiar. A scammer might also try to pose as a financial institution in an email. If this happens, call your bank or financial partner first to confirm that they sent a message before providing any financial information over email.

  1. VERIFY PHONE CALLS

A scammer can also call and pose as a grandchild in need of money in an emergency. Before transferring funds or running out and buying gift cards, confirm with your family that the suspected grandchild is in danger. Even if the scammer says to not tell anyone else, if a member of your family claims to be in danger, double check before withdrawing or transferring thousands of dollars.

  1. NAME ANOTHER JOINT AGENT

Another effective way to protect against financial fraud is to have an additional family member listed as a joint agent on financial accounts. This way, before large sums of money are transferred or withdrawn, another family member must sign off.


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As technology and fraudsters’ schemes continue to evolve, it can be challenging to stay one step ahead which is why it’s important to have a trusted financial partner. Ask your bank or financial advisor whether they’re up-to-date on fraud prevention training and what specific measures they take to protect the elderly. A little extra education and vigilance can go a long way in helping keep our elderly friends and family from becoming victims of financial fraud. 


Steven Thornburg is SVP, senior regional delivery manger, Colorado, personal banking for UMB Bank. He can be reached a Steven.Thornburg@umb.com.

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