Preventing Financial Elder Abuse

The scam problem has one solution: knowing how to protect yourself. To do that you must recognize a scam when you see it.

The Telltale Signs

Types of Scams

Giveaway Scams

  • Letter, email, or caller that’s “thrilled” to announce you’re a winner
  • Requires an immediate response
  • You have to make an up-front payment, though the reason you’re given will vary, depending on the specific scam

Imposter Scams

  • Urgent call from scammer posing as family or friend
  • Family member or caller in serious trouble
  • Money required immediately to resolve problem
  • The matter must remain secret

Charity Scams

  • Urgent plea for humanitarian help
  • Pressure to make immediate donation
  • Sometimes quasi-legitimate

Investment Scams

  • Investment described as risk-free
  • Above average return guaranteed
  • Immediate purchase often required

Contractor Scams

  • Solicits a job by pointing out an “urgent” problem
  • Asks for up-front payment in cash
  • Begins the job but claims it’s much more serious than initially thought
  • Demands more money
  • Disappears with the work unfinished

Tax Scams

  • An official-looking letter claiming you are seriously delinquent.
  • You can avoid prosecution if you pay what’s due within 24 hours
  • Payment must be by wire transfer or bank check
Look out for the warning signs of a financial scam

What to Do

Block those scammers

What to do: Hang up! Hit delete! Slam the door! While this may be considered rude, it’s a very effective method to keep you from being scammed.
  • Register with the National Do Not Call Registry at
  • If you answer a call from someone you don’t know, don’t provide any information, and hang up.
  • Throw out mail you’re not expecting or from sources you don’t recognize. Be sure to shred anything with identifying information that a thief could use to apply for a credit card, loan, or a line of credit in your name.
  • You should never open emails from senders you don’t recognize. If you get an email that appears to be from someone you know but seems suspicious, it’s smart to delete it before opening any attachments or links it contains. Sometimes scammers hijack email addresses and send phony emails to everyone in the owner’s address book. If you’re questioning the legitimacy of an email, call the sender using the number in your contacts to verify they sent it.
  • Be very guarded about the information you provide on social media sites. Scammers looking for victims can, and do, use the personal information you provide to victimize you.
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How to Defend Against Scams

Build up Your Scam Defenses

  • Be suspicious of any situation that requires you to send money up front
  • Assume that insistence on secrecy is a ploy to deceive
  • Confirm all stories, offers, or charities independently
  • Choose the privacy settings on social media accounts

If You’re a Scam Victim

It’s important to speak up. Being scammed isn’t something to be ashamed of, any more than being the victim of any other crime.
  • Tell someone you trust, such as a friend or family member. Document the issue, this may be necessary to file a police report.
  • Report the scam to your bank. It will help the bank’s experts be alert to potential future problems.
  • Contact the police and federal agencies, including the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Your report can help prevent further scams and may lead to the scammer’s apprehension and punishment.
Be cautious about giving out your financial information

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