As I have stated in recent weeks, efforts to scam seniors are systematically working through our community. Technological advances have made this an even more serious risk. Now, scammers literally half a world away have the ability to identify vulnerable – usually senior age – victims right here.
To protect yourself, keep in mind the following keys. Many come from a very informative article by Sid Kirchheimer, who writes for AARP.
- If you didn't enter the contest, you didn't win. Remembering this will avoid so many problems.
- A lottery or sweepstakes requiring an upfront payment is a scam. According to the BBB, winners of legitimate drawings are never required to pay up front.
- You have no obligation to pay anything upfront. If scammers can’t trick you into paying fees upfront, they may try to threaten or intimidate you into sending money.
- If you receive a check with instructions to deposit it and send a portion back, don’t cash the check. This is a scam and you will be responsible to repay the money you deposit.
- If they solicit you, never give any financial information. This is true even if they refer you to a website that seems to show they are a legitimate business. It is very easy to set up a sham website.
- If you have been victimized, prepare to be targeted again. Yes, the bad guys share information.
My greatest concern is that it only takes one weak moment to destroy a lifetime of preparation; and those opportunities for weak moments tend to increase with the frailties of age. Given this, I recommend the following:
- Identify now someone you can contact for support if you are unsure what to do.
- If you are concerned about someone you feel may become a victim, share this information with them now.
- Incorporate into your estate plan now a mechanism to protect your significant assets from moments of weakness. Consult a knowledgeable professional for guidance.
© 2015 Steven J Wright