Recently our Managing Partner received a panicked phone call that one of his grandchildren had broken his nose in a car accident. The grandchild (whom the caller pretended to be) was supposedly driving. Money was needed for some reason. Once our Partner told the caller that it was curious that someone who just started tee-ball is driving, the caller hung up the phone.
This would be funny if it wasn’t so successful at times.
There are several steps (this is not an exhaustive list) that you can and should take to help prevent the kind of emotional blackmail that these fraudsters use.
Here are some suggestions:
1) Name a trusted person in your family as a Trusted Contact with the people who handle your money. If you do that then, if you call your financial advisor asking for an emergency distribution that sounds unusual, the advisor can call your Trusted Contact to get some confirmation.
2) As difficult as it may be, take a deep breath and try to be logical.Ask questions but don’t give them information about yourself or your family. Is it strange that the caller would tell you not to call a relative, or not to question them? Step back and ask if it makes any sense.
3) Read all you can about the many types of scams. There are telephone, computer/email, texting, snail mail, and many other delivery methods. If you are not sure with whom you are dealing, then (as they say on TV) call a friend to discuss. As one very popular scam, you may get an email from someone whom you know, but if you really look closely at their email address, it is different from the one your friend may use. If that is the case, do not click on any links, etc. Call your friend to see if they really sent the email. If not, delete and block.
4) Think twice about the payment logistics. If you, unfortunately, get to the point where you are taking down information about where to wire your money (note: NEVER give your credit card information nor your bank information over the phone, unless you absolutely know with whom you are speaking), review the place to which the money is going, and ask yourself if it makes sense, for example, to send funds for someone in New Orleans to somewhere in South America.
5) Never EVER grant a request that has come via email without actually calling the person to confirm their identity. For example, if you get what appears to be a legitimate email and you can do an online search of the person or business, then do that to make sure the call-back number is legitimate for that person or company. If not sure, then do not respond.
6) Call us at our offices! We will be happy to help if possible.
We will endeavor to periodically remind everyone of these growing risks. If you take some precautions, then we can all continue to communicate safely.
Elder fraud is any scam that targets older adults and exploits them for monetary gain, such as financial fraud or identity theft. In 2018, $184 million was estimated to be lost as a result of fraud scams targeting older adults.
Suspected fraud can be reported to the National Elder Fraud Hotline at 833–FRAUD–11.