Have you ever been the victim of fraud? If not, chances are you know someone who has. While older adults are certainly vulnerable, the truth is everyone is vulnerable to fraud and scams, because everyone has sensitive information that thieves will go to great lengths to get.
In 2013, U.S. consumers lost over $1.6 billion to fraud. There are more than 50 types of fraud, with more being developed every day. Those committing fraud succeed because they can so often count on victims being too trusting and simply not paying close attention. The best way to protect ourselves and those we love from scams is safeguard our private financial information and pay close attention to our accounts.
With generous support from Wells Fargo Advisors, OASIS is developing a fraud awareness and prevention class designed to equip older adults with the knowledge we need so we can identify fraud, understand how it works and report it. The pilot classes will be led by volunteer facilitators who have been provided basic training on fraud and how to stop it. Those attending the classes are encouraged to share what they’ve learned with others, using materials developed by the Federal Trade Commission’s Pass It On initiative and the Wells Fargo Advisors Hands On Banking program. The goal is to empower others to stop scammers in their tracks by making sure we all know their tricks.
The classes will provide details on six major types of fraud: identity theft, paying too much, healthcare scams, imposter or “granny” scams, charity fraud and “you’ve won” scams. There is also helpful information on ways to protect ourselves from being a victim of fraud, including the following Top Ten Strategies:
- Protect your personal information: S.S. #, bank accounts, investment accounts, passwords.
- Annually order your free credit reports on all family members, including young children.
- Use multiple character passwords.
- Review your accounts online on regular basis
- Do not send cash or cash equivalents to unknown sources.
- Have a family password for protection against Granny scam.
- E-mail: do not click on unknown links.
- Shred all documents, papers containing personal information.
- Do not feel bad, or hesitate to hang up on unsolicited phone calls.
If a victim of fraud / scam, IMMEDIATELY contact your local police, then call the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-382-4357.