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Older Adults are Easy Targets of Financial Scams

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Often older adults become easy targets of scammers.

Older adults are often easy targets for financial scammers.  It is not difficult to target elderly individuals because of their trusting nature or their loneliness.  Scammers usually use scare tactics to target their victims in order to convince them to give up personal information.

Stephanie Rhea, Manager at La Capitol Federal Credit Union, explained various types of scams used to elicit personal information.  One of the common types of fraudulent activity is "phishing."  Phone calls,  text messages, and e-mails are used to obtain personal and financial information.  Rhea explained that the intent of "phishing" is to steal money or to commit identity theft.

Rhea gave examples of some of the common scams used to obtain personal information.  One scammer informed their victims that they were with the Internal Revenue Services and that "back taxes were owed and they said that if they were not paid immediately, they will be fined and arrested." 

Another common scam is to contact people to tell them that they missed jury duty and fines were due immediately or they would be arrested.  Rhea pointed out that "scare tactics cause people to give information that they would not normally give."

Scare tactics cause people to give information that they would not normally give.

To prevent becoming a victim of these scams, Rhea explained, consumers should know that legitimate businesses and government entitities do not make such threatening phone calls.  Moreover, consumers should always verify who they are speaking to before providing any kind of information.

Rhea cautioned to not even trust Caller Id because "these scammers can spoof a telephone number to look like they are calling from somewhere they are actually not."

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Listen to the complete interview with Stephanie Rhea.

Rhea advised that if you feel that you have given out sensitive financial information to a scammer, "the first thing you should do, and the best solution is, to contact your financial institution.

Anita Sharma Ph.D., LCSW, is a Gerontology and Social Work Educator, Researcher, and Practitioner. She holds an M.A. in Medical and Psychiatric Social Work from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, a prestigious social sciences university in India, a Master of Social Work (clinical practice) and a Doctorate in Social Work from Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Louisiana and serves as a pro bono consultant to various agencies.
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