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#898750 08/29/15 08:19 AM
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Hello to All,

I recently posted a few articles on the Geriatrics site on the topic of Fraud and found much interest out there on this issue. I'll bet most of us have heard of someone older who was bilked by a scam artist or read about someone who was scammed.

It's pretty outrageous that as we age we are more vulnerable and people take advantage of that fact -- in some instances even family members. Here's one of the articles. I hope you will post any information that will help others "beware."


Here we go:

Keeping ourselves safe and avoiding the types of frauds and elder abuse out there are important ways of enhancing our quality of life as we age. Sometimes avoiding fraud means looking closer to home than we’d like, say experts at The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC.)

Older persons and their loved ones should be very suspicious if they notice any of the following:

•A relative or caregiver who becomes extremely interested in the elderly person's financial affairs;

•A caregiver who is reluctant to spend money on necessary medical treatment;

•A person who prevents the elderly person from talking on the phone or doesn't pass along phone messages;

•There are unauthorized withdrawals from checking or savings accounts;

•The caregiver claims that some money is "missing;"

•Or, there are new or recently changed legal documents, such as wills or "powers of attorney" that give this other person rights to conduct transactions.

FDIC reports that frauds and thefts against older persons by people they know and trust are surprisingly common. Friends and relatives have convinced older persons to add their name to bank accounts, living trusts or wills perhaps as the sole beneficiary, or grant a power of attorney giving total control over the person's financial affairs.

"One problem identifying certain frauds as frauds is that, on the surface, the actions involved can be for legitimate purposes," says Michael Bernardo, Chief of the FDIC’s Cyber Fraud and Financial Crimes Section.

According to recent reports, FDIC also warns that criminals are filing fake deeds to gain control of homes, often those belonging to older persons. A con artist can attempt to "steal" a house by falsely claiming to be the owner of a property or the owner's adult child who has the authority to conduct business for the family.

The perpetrator typically targets nice homes that are vacant for a long time, perhaps because the owner is away for the winter or is receiving extended medical treatment. "Because the house is not being lived in, this fraud can go undetected for quite a while," says David Nelson, a fraud specialist in the FDIC's Financial Crimes Section.

To protect yourself, he suggests "making sure the house looks lived-in while you are away," such as by arranging for mail and newspapers to be picked up or forwarded, leaving your window curtains as you ordinarily place them day by day, having a neighbor check on your house and park in your driveway in the evenings, using a few timers for lights, and other safety measures.

What should you do if you suspect a fraud? "Talk to another family member, a lawyer who could intervene on your behalf, or someone else you know you can trust," advises Susan van den Toorn, an FDIC attorney. Also, you can report your suspicions to hotlines that are in most states for suspected elder mistreatment in the home and in long-term care facilities.


I hope to hear from you! Anytime we post an informative story, we help someone else who may not be aware of this information.

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Aargh. I just heard another story, this one is more about safety than fraud but is along the same theme. This is nothing new but needs to be said as a reminder, since we forget about being aware in public places.

A friend's mom was in a supermarket (she's about 85) and turned away from her carriage to open one of the large freezer doors to pick out some frozen vegetables. She turned around to put them in her carriage and saw that her purse was open and her wallet was gone. She had placed her purse, like many of us do, in the small caged area located where our hands are on the bars to conveniently reach it. We need to remember to loop the strap of our purses around our hands while pushing the carriage. If you need that hand, that is the trigger to remember to put your purse on your shoulder or arm while turning around. This is such a common mistake and because shopping is such an everyday occurrence we take safety in our favorite stores for granted.

Also remember while at your car to put your purse on the seat first, then put the bags in. If you turn around to load with your purse still in the carriage that is the perfect time for a thief to grab it. I left mine in the carriage and actually had a man come up to me and tell me he COULD have taken it and to be more careful. A few of my friends think that if I hadn't turned around and saw him he wouldn't have warned me, but rather just grabbed the purse. (I prefer to think he would have warned me.)

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The same friend whose mom got ripped off in the grocery store just called and said another woman (a neighbor of hers) in another nearby store had that happen to her only the person took her entire purse! Apparently what these thieves do is come into the store with no purse and pick up yours so it looks fine for them to be walking out with it. They found her purse in the parking lot without a wallet and sunglasses! She said they were prescription, so her $200 glasses will end up in the garbage probably. We really need to be aware of all kinds of fraud and safety issues at all ages, but especially as we get older. We are in our own environs and get comfortable and sometimes less alert than we were in our younger years. Our reflexes and eyesight do change and dishonest people out there know all about it!

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Bilking people of all ages is a huge business, and many scams target older adults. The phone and regular mail is the way many organizations that are not really legitimate con us into giving money, get our credit card numbers, and begin sending mail to us with pictures and stories that pull at our heart strings.

Be careful and be sure to research any organization before you give them a cent. Many of them support a huge administrative staff -- rather than giving most of their funds to actual people in need, their administrative costs take up most of the money donated. It's better to give to organizations that have a small overhead and give most of their budget to their targeted recipients.

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I can't believe how many email frauds there are out there. I have received so many (and so has one of my lady friends) that we thought we would save them and publish them sometime in the future! Some are hilarious, with so many misspelled words and obviously translated from another language. We can't believe that people "fall for" these emails.

On the other hand, there are a few that are so good, that we have called our phone company (or bank) to check to see if they are bogus. Some unsuspecting person may not do that and just respond, especially since these emails use the company logos and seem to be authentic.

If you know anyone who has lost some of their mental acuity or who may be naive or unsuspecting, warn them about this problem. It is huge and no laughing matter, despite some of the more ridiculous emails we may receive.

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This is the time of year when mail and phone frauds are high since people are in a giving mode during the holidays. Be very careful and check the legitimacy of each organization that you are tempted to give to, and never give any funds to door to door solicitors before doing the research!!

Don't be afraid to caution an older family member about these frauds as older persons are often the most vulnerable -- their generation didn't have these issues to the same degree in their younger years so they are often unsuspecting.

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I just put a new lock on my back door and had a pole cut to place in my sliding door out to the porch. Can't be too careful Check around your house and treat yourself to a few new safety features! How about a few small night lights well placed in the house so the light can be seen outside and you can walk more safely at night?

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Mail frauds are still very common, so be sure to do the research before you send any money for a mailer. For example, there are many groups who send out mailers soliciting funds for persons with disabilities, religious organizations, world hunger, the homeless and more. If you look up the organization on line and look for reviews and ratings, you will be surprised at what you will discover - both good and bad news. Since none of us likes to be the victim of a scam, it is important that we check first before we offer up our hard earned dollars. We need to be sure to tell our friends what we discover!

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A friend of mine's computer went out and she got a message saying call a certain phone number for help. She said they held her computer "hostage" and told her it would cost $300 to get rid of the virus blocking her use and could "find" and restore her information.

Apparently this is a common scam. If it should happen to you, unplug your computer and take it to a professional and let them debug it for you. It will cost you a lot less and they will be able to block the virus/hackers from entering your system again.

This is one of many computer scams. We need to remember that older adults don't have the years of experience that younger people have with computers, so they get taken in more readily! Never give up a dime until you check with a reliable professional about what you should do in these circumstances.

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I'm working on my will and my lawyer told me to be very specific about who gets what. Without a list, someone could claim that the deceased said they could have this or that when in fact that isn't so. Take the time to spell out who should receive your most precious items. You never know.

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A woman I recently met told me that she was robbed a few days before, and her mom, who is in her 80's, was in the house taking a nap at that time. She decided then and there she would get a burglar alarm. She said it was the third time she was robbed! My immediate thought was "Why did you wait?" When something like robbery happens, we may think that the probabilities say it won't happen again. Don't take that chance. Take steps to make your home environment more secure by adding outside lighting; putting locks on windows that prevent them from opening all the way; putting wooden poles or locks on sliding glass doors; improving locks on all doors; and/or getting an alarm system and using it. Feeling unsafe in our homes is the last thing we need as we become more vulnerable in older age.

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Hello to All. I recently posted an article on another fraud on the rise for older persons, medical identity fraud. Check it out. We don't always think about this one. I know when I get my medicare notices,it doesn't occur to me to be sure that the services are correct because I take it for granted. Just something else we should check to be sure we are not being scammed!

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I was thinking of when I had a terrible house fire and had a very negative experience with my insurance company. I realize this is stretching the "fraud" category, but I feel compelled to say this...

Take pictures of what you have in your home, especially things that are precious to you and may be of some value and put them in a safe deposit box or a fireproof container. I had many antiques, paintings, and other items that were destroyed in a storage room in the basement. I couldn't prove anything about them as I had them for years so no receipts. I tried to find pictures inadvertently taken of them at past events in my home just to show what they looked like. So take pictures and keep receipts of valuable items, and put them in a safe place. This will stand you in good stead in case of a robbery or a fire.

Don't think this can't happen to you. No one was more devastated or surprised than I was. I lived in a townhouse and the fire started under the ground from a wire that went from the electrical box outside into the switch box in the house. There was no way to tell that the wire was eroding. Better safe than sorry!!

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Be careful of political phone calls that ask for money for your Party. If you are making a contribution, do not give out your bank or credit card information. Ask for an address or find the correct address on line and mail in a check. Now is the time when there are numerous phone scams out there and you will never know if your money went to an illegal "front" or not.

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I keep getting these fraudulent emails. They seem to be increasing which makes me think they are successful in baiting people. Just a reminder to say be cautious about what kinds of emails you respond to. Always check with your bank before sending any financial information on line!! Or giving out any type of personal information by phone!!

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