With so many people having to be isolated this past year due to Coronavirus, it’s safe to say that the number of fraud schemes targeting the elderly has skyrocketed. And if you think it’s a small number of scam artists operating out of an Internet café in Africa or the Caribbean, consider the news from the Justice Department earlier this month. A marketing firm called Epsilon Data Management, LLC confessed that during nine years, the firm sold data on 30 million consumers to fraudsters who were actively looking to exploit seniors. As a result of its actions, the Justice Department forced Epsilon to pay a $150 million fine.
Although we appreciate that our government is trying to send a strong message to marketing firms, unfortunately, the damage done by Epsilon and others will likely far exceed any financial penalties the company was made to suffer. Elder fraud schemes hurt not just the individuals who unwittingly hand money to criminals but to all the friends and family who must pick up the pieces of broken lives to help the victims. An ounce of prevention, as the saying goes, is worth more than a pound of cure.
Data on 30 million consumers are out in the wild and available to criminals on the dark web; the only question is how many seniors will be duped, defrauded, deceived, and swindled. Could this have been prevented in the first place? Shouldn’t such sensitive consumer data be better protected? We need to educate seniors and their families about ways to avoid getting conned. The National Council on Aging published 8 Tips for How Seniors Can Protect Themselves from Money Scams, and their advice is worth following:
Ways You Can Prevent Elder Fraud Schemes
1. Everyone is at risk of financial abuse. Understand the ten most common scams targeting seniors so you can spot and avoid them before it’s too late.
2. Don’t isolate – stay involved. Older people who are isolated are at a much greater risk of becoming victims.
3. Tell solicitors: “I never buy to anyone who calls or visits unannounced. Put it in writing.”
4. Shred all receipts that have credit card numbers of bank statements.
5. Sign up for “Do Not Call Lists” and block unknown callers on cell phones.
6. Use direct deposit for all checks.
7. Never give out a credit card, banking information, Social Security number, Medicare number, or any other personal information over the phone.
8. Be skeptical of all unsolicited offers by phone, email, text, or any other form of communication.
Elder fraud schemes are an epidemic that we can all try to avoid. Please pass this information along to any vulnerable seniors – forewarned is forearmed.
York Law Firm takes Elder Fraud Schemes very seriously. If you or a loved one are in need of legal assistance we can help
Attorney Wendy York of York Law Firm specializes in prosecuting elder abuse and wrongful death cases. For further information, please contact Wendy York and York Law Firm today.