Elder Fraud Attorney: Did You Lose Money?
An elder fraud attorney helps senior citizens and those who are over 65 years old. These fraud attorneys have been busy in 2021 because of the rise in online scams – costing senior citizens $3 billion in losses according to the FBI. Online fraudsters specifically target elderly people for their financial crimes, not only because of that demographic’s lack of familiarity with technology but also because many elderly people have accumulated extensive savings over their lifetimes and have good financial credit. If you or someone you care for was the victim of elder fraud, please contact our law firm at 800-767-8040.
Part of protecting yourself against financial fraud is knowing the types of financial fraud schemes that exist.
Here is a list of the most common types:
Ponzi Schemes Targeting Retirees
Named after the swindler Charles Ponzi, this financial crime takes in money from victims and pays “dividends” to initial investors from the money paid into the scheme by later investors. No money is actually invested and the whole scheme eventually falls in on itself. If you or someone you know was a victim of a ponzi scheme, you should consult an elder fraud attorney.
How to avoid:
- Ignore any “investment” that makes exaggerated claims of returns.
- Practice due diligence on any investment you seek.
- Only accept investment advice from Registered Investment Advisers who are registered with the SEC or their local state authority.
How Elderly Fraud Victims Can Sue Financial Advisors
Ransomware and Hacking
Ransomware is a type of computer virus that locks your files, rendering them unusable, soliciting payment from you to unlock them. The best way to avoid this scam is to:
- Keep your computer’s antivirus up to date.
- Don’t click on any links in phishing emails or any email you think is suspicious.
- Stay away from dubious websites, especially gambling and pornographic websites.
Reverse Mortgage Scams
Homeowners above 62 years of age might be eligible for a reverse mortgage. This is a type of loan that allows homeowners to borrow against the equity in their home. There are no monthly payments and the loan is repaid after selling the home.
Reverse mortgage scams can be carried out through identity theft or by getting power of attorney for the reverse mortgage money, leaving the elderly person with no equity and no money from the reverse mortgage.
How to avoid this scam:
- Be wary of anyone who insists you only deal with them for a reverse mortgage.
- Ignore unsolicited ads.
- Do not accept payment from anyone for a home you didn’t purchase.
- Hire an attorney to look over any reverse mortgage contracts before signing.
Other Types of Elder Financial Fraud
Credit Card Fraud totaled $28.65 billion in losses in 2019. To avoid credit card fraud, it is vital to:
- Never write credit card details down.
- Never text credit card details.
- Never email credit card details.
- Never take a photo of a credit card.
- For elderly people, shop only on reputable and well-known websites such as Amazon and Walmart.
- If your browser issues a warning at any point while visiting a website, do not make any payments on that website.
- Contact your card issuer immediately after seeing any purchase that seems suspicious or which you believe you didn’t make.
Another common type of elder fraud is funeral and cemetery fraud.
Many people seek to prepay their funeral costs and laws exist in each state to ensure these prepayments are available when needed. Fraudsters will sometimes seek to take more payments than are necessary or list themselves as beneficiaries for payments received.
Tips to avoid this type of fraud:
- Shop around. Look at reviews. Do your due diligence of any potential operator.
- Understand all the types of fees.
- Know about caskets (for example, a casket is not required for cremation).
- Read all contracts carefully. Have an experienced attorney review any contracts as needed.
- Understand all cancellation terms of any contract.
Tips to Avoid Being a Victim of Elder Financial Abuse
There are many types of financial crimes and many ways to hoodwink people out of their hard-earned money.
But the most important things to know to avoid becoming a victim are:
- Always be suspicious. Err in the direction of being overly cautious.
- Shop around.
- Never be ashamed to ask for help. If anyone makes you feel bad for asking, then ask someone else. Many people want to help.
- Have an attorney on retainer and consult with them on as many matters as necessary. Attorney fees often pay for themselves as a result of protecting you from financial crime. Speak to an elder fraud attorney if you have questions.
No matter what type of scam is being run, such as a romantic scam or a financial one, phishing is one of the most common methods to snag elderly people.
Phishing is the practice of sending a fraudulent email, pretending it comes from someone else, such as a bank or credit card company. It is extremely easy to send an email that says it comes from, say, ABC Bank when in fact it comes from a scammer’s computer. If you were a victim of a hacking scam, you should speak to an elder fraud attorney. You may be able to recover losses.
There are ways to tell immediately if an email is genuine, but they require technical knowledge that many people—especially elderly people—often don’t have. So here are some other tips that anyone can use that indicate an email might be a scam:
- Excessive typos or grammatical errors in the email copy.
- Emails of an alarming or “urgent” nature.
- Emails requesting your password. (No bank or financial institution would ever request your password via email.)
- Emails requesting some other type of sensitive information, such as your social security number. (No bank would ever ask you for this via email.)
- Soliciting payment for some unexpected expense.
The simplest thing to do is call the institution the email is supposedly from and check with them. Do not call any numbers listed in the email itself! Go to the official website of that institution and get their number from there.
Don’t click any links in the email. Often, phishing emails contain spoofed links that lead to websites that look like an official website, but aren’t. Look for the website of the institution on Google. A common question elderly people have is how financial crime perpetrators got their email address in the first place. The simple answer is: Easily. There are countless ways that an email address can be obtained. Two of the most common ways are:
- A computer viruses on the computer of anyone who has your email address.
- Websites where you left a comment or requested help and inadvertently exposed your email address.