Protect Yourself & Your Loved Ones from Fraud
At Village Bank the safety of our clients are first and foremost. A recent report by the Wall Street Journal found that financial abuse of older adults is up 17% from last year and is almost double the rate from six years ago. More than 24,000 suspected cases of financial abuse of individuals 65 and older were reported by banks.
To address this very serious issue, in 2018, the Senior Safe Act was signed into law. The law allows banks, credit unions, investment advisers and brokers to report suspected fraud to law enforcement without fear of being sued, as long as they have trained their employees how to detect suspicious activity.
In honor of National Older Americans Month, here are some of the recent scams to watch out for, courtesy of AARP:
Social Security Scam
What it is: The Federal Trade Commission has received upwards of 17,000 Social Security Scam complaints in the past year. In one scam, callers use robocalls to reach consumers by phone, requesting that they “press 1” to speak to a government “support representative” to help reactivate your Social Security number. In another, your caller ID may flash the Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General.
How to protect yourself: While Social Security Administration (SSA) employees may contact you by phone if you have a pending issue, in most cases the agency will contact you by mail or email. If you do get a suspicious call, contact SSA at 800.772.1213 to determine if the agency is, in fact, trying to reach you and why. Meanwhile, keep your Social Security number confidential. If you suspect you might be a victim of identity theft because you either confirmed or told someone your Social Security number, visit www.identitytheft.gov/SSA.
What it is: This scam has been garnering a lot of attention recently. Someone will phone, claiming to be your grandchild (typically they will say “Guess who” or something similar when you answer and when you guess a grandchild’s name, they use the name you’ve provided). The caller will then claim to be in distress or danger—they may say they’ve been arrested or in an accident—and then ask you to wire or send them money or gift cards.
How to protect yourself: If you get a phone call, don’t give out information such as family names. If you are not confident that the caller is who he or she says they are, tell them you will call them right back and phone your grandchildren or children directly to ensure that they are safe and the call is legitimate.
Phantom Debt Collection Scam
What it is: Through this scam you’ll get a phone call from someone who says he or she is a lawyer or debt collector and claim you have a delinquent loan payment or bill and demand immediate payment. The caller is aggressive and will threaten arrest or tell you that someone is on the way to your home right now for the payment. He or she will demand that you pay immediately through a wire transfer or prepaid card.
How to protect yourself: A legitimate debt collector would never threaten to have you arrested. Ask for the caller’s name, company, address, phone number and professional license number. Also demand they provide you with a written validation notice specifying the debt and the creditor. And check your credit report after you receive a suspicious call. If no such debt is listed, that could indicate the call was a scam. (You are allowed one free credit report every 12 months from each of the three major reporting agencies.)
What it is: Phone calls from individuals impersonating IRS agents are on the upswing. The caller will claim you have an unpaid tax bill and could be arrested. They may trick your caller ID to make it appear the call is coming from the IRS and they may seem to know part of your social security number.
How to protect yourself: The IRS rarely contacts you by phone and only after you’ve been mailed multiple written notices. Also the IRS will not threaten to have you arrested. Don’t provide personal or financial information over the phone. The IRS communicates mostly through the mail, including in cases of delinquent taxes. In addition, the IRS will never contact you via email or text messaging.
Stay safe and if you have any questions, please reach out to us at Village Bank. Your financial security is paramount.