5 Things You Can Do To Guard Against Fraud

Statistics reveal that as much as twenty percent of the senior population has been a victim of fraud and that it often goes unreported for a number of reasons. First, the perpetrator may be a family member or loved one, or they may be intimidated.

Just as often, the criminal justice system is too confusing to manipulate and seniors are also concerned they will be viewed as incompetent and incapable of handing their own affairs.

In light of this, it is important to become proactive in learning how to guard against fraud. What follows are five simple rules to avoid being a victim of deception.

1. Be discerning about who you trust. Listen to the voice in your head and follow your gut. If you are approached by someone who you have not solicited but offers to help you take care of your finances, your home and possessions, or other personal responsibilities take down their name and other information and then contact authorities to verify their legitimacy and/or to file a complaint.

2. Do not take phone calls from telephone numbers you don’t recognize or respond to texts or emails asking for donations or making promises of cash or other forms of prizes. The telephone is one of the most common entry points into a senior’s home. Scammers are expert at finagling private information with just a few well-worded questions – and the next thing you know your accounts are emptied or credit cards compromised.

3. If you are philanthropically-inclined, give only to charities that are established and recognizable such as the Red Cross. Become familiar with tools that can help you determine the validity of a charitable organization such as Charity Navigator. This single group provides up-to-date information on over 8000 charities in the United States alone – evaluating their accountability and efficiency. Make sure that the dollars you donate do the most good.

4. Do not open the door to solicitors, or persons who do not have proper ID. Anyone with legitimate business will be able to have it verified. Remember, police and fireman do not go door to door soliciting funds. Nor should you expect any representative of your utility company to come calling either unless it is an appointment made in advance – after which you would receive notification and be able to validate their credentials. Frankly, there is really no need for door-to-door soliciting of any type today. So be wary and cautious when someone presents at your door that you do not recognize.

5. When someone steals your personal information and uses it without your permission it is identity theft. The types of information that are commonly stolen include credit card numbers, social security numbers and more.. Identity theft is rampant across the country today and its consequences can be devastating, so taking a proactive approach to avoiding it is best. First, always keep your private papers in a lockbox in your home. Also, never give anyone your social security number over the phone. Finally, check your credit regularly to ensure that no one has managed to abscond with your information!

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