What You Need To Know About Financial Exploitation
Sometimes it’s friends. Sometimes it’s family.
People wanting access to an older person’s money.
It’s a different kind of elder abuse, said Debbie Speigel, LNB’s vice president and senior bank risk officer.
The bank will address the issue and offer helpful tips at a seminar Wednesday, August 3 at 2:30 at Raider Ranch.
The public is invited.
Raider Ranch is at 6548 43rd Street, just west of Milwaukee Avenue.
A speakers from Adult Protective Services will participate.
“We’re seeing this a lot throughout the bank,” said Speigel, adding information they get from federal agencies says more of this type of financial exploitation is also growing across the country.
“They’re urging banks to get involved in community education,” she said.
“We want people to be more aware of what to look for and educate employees on red flags and spotting it faster,” said Speigel.
“We also want the community to know we don’t tolerate this and we will report it,” she said.
Mike Orndorff, special agent in the FBI’s Lubbock office, said there are an almost endless number of different scams people use to target victims – specifically the elderly.
“The elderly are more often victims because they pick up the phone, they’re polite, more likely to believe someone is who they say they are,” said Orndorff. “These people prey on elderly being lonely.”
“There are cold calls originating out of Jamaica, people saying they’re from the Canadian lottery, Publisher’s Clearinghouse, IRS, FBI – they want to verify a Social Security number,” he said.
People will be told they’ve won a prize but just need to send $500 to cover taxes, and some people end up paying tens of thousands of dollars by the time the scam runs its course, he said.
The criminals may have part of a person’s Social Security number and just want the rest. Or they have a credit card number but ask to verify the three-number code on the back, said Orndorff.
“There are so many scams,” he said, adding people send emails saying they’re from the IRS, but the email is email@example.com.
The agent added there’s also romance fraud targeting women over the Internet.
Orndorff told the story of a woman who was accepting packages from a man claiming to be a major in a foreign army and the packages were stolen merchandise.
Another woman, he said, sent $70,000 to a man claiming to be in the British military.
“I told her she might be helping to fund terrorism and found out later she sent another $50,000,” he said.
Another scam sends counterfeit checks to buy a car.
“If I’m selling a car for $5,000, they may send check for $8,000 and say they’ll have someone pick up the car – asking the seller to give the driver $2,200 and saying the seller can pocket the extra $800. Days later the bank comes back and says the check is counterfeit and you’re on hook for all $8,000,” he said.
“That happens a lot,” said Orndorff.
“Just remember you don’t get something for nothing,” Orndorff said.
What are types of financial exploitation?
- Theft: involves assets taken without knowledge, consent or authorization; may include taking of cash, valuables, medications, and other personal property.
- Fraud: involves acts of dishonestly by persons entrusted to manage assets but take assets for unintended uses; may include falsification of records, forgeries, unauthorized check-writing, and Ponzi-type financial schemes.
- Real Estate: involves unauthorized sales, transfers or changes to property title.
- Contractor: includes building contractors or handymen who receive payment(s) for building repairs, but fail to initiate or complete project; may include invalid liens by contractors.
- Lottery scams: involves payments to collect unclaimed property or “prizes” from lotteries or sweepstakes.
- Electronic: includes “phishing” e-mail messages to trick persons into unwittingly surrendering bank passwords; may include faxes, wire transfers, telephonic communications.
- Mortgage: includes financial products which are unaffordable or out-of-compliance with regulatory requirements; may include loans issued against property by unauthorized parties.
- Investment: includes investments made without knowledge or consent; may include high-fee funds (front or back-loaded) or excessive
trading activity to generate commissions for financial advisors.
- Insurance: involves sales of inappropriate products, such as a thirty-year annuity for a very elderly person; may include unauthorized trading of life insurance policies.
What are the signs and symptoms?
- Sudden changes in bank account balances
- Unexplained withdrawal of large sums of money
- Forged signature for financial transactions or for titles of property
- Requests from strangers or others to be added to your bank signature cards
- Requests from strangers or others to make changes to your will or other financial documents
- Missing funds or valuables
- Unpaid bills despite having enough money
- Substandard care being provided, despite paying for adequate amount
- Someone providing unnecessary services and charging for them
Tips to help seniors safeguard their money
- Keep personal information private. Never share your social security number, account information, or personal details over the phone or internet, unless you initiated contact with a trusted source.
- Shred! Shred! Shred! Shred receipts, bank statements and unused credit card offers before throwing them away so fraudsters can’t piece together your personal information.
- Don’t let a so-called “advisor” pressure you. Never let a new or untrusted “advisor” pressure you into sharing personal or financial details. They could be a fraudster. Carefully choose a trustworthy person to act as your agent in all estate-planning matters.
- Check your credit report. Customers should check their credit report at least once a year to ensure no new credit cards or accounts have been opened by criminals in your name. Everyone is entitled to receive a free copy of their credit report annually from each of the three credit reporting agencies, but you must go through the Federal Trade Commission’s website at www.annualcreditreport.com, or call 1-877-322-8228.
- Lock up your checkbook, account statements and other sensitive information when others will be in your home.
- Get to know your banker and build a relationship with the people who handle your finances. They can look out for any suspicious activity related to your account.
- Never pay a fee or taxes to collect sweepstakes or lottery “winnings.”
- Check references and credentials before hiring anyone. Don’t allow workers to have access to information about your finances.
- Pay with checks and credit cards instead of cash to keep a paper trail.
- Trust your instincts. Exploiters and abusers often are very skilled. They can be charming and forceful in their effort to convince you to give
up control of your finances. Don’t be fooled—if something doesn’t feel right, it may not be right. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
If you are a victim of financial abuse, please talk to Adult Protective Services, police, one of our personal bankers, a trusted family member, your clergy, attorney, or doctor.
Our bank is committed to protecting our customers, and community, from financial exploitation. This crime deprives older adults of their resources, and ultimately, their independence. Here at LNB we have a zero tolerance policy regarding abuse of any kind. If we suspect abuse, we will contact the Texas Department of Family Services.
Material provided by Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, Adult Protective Services and the American Bankers Association.