Education Update: Protect Yourself from These Financial Scams

February 28, 2018

Financial fraud is, unfortunately, a common practice in America that costs individuals and businesses billions of dollars each year. Research shows that people often underreport financial fraud, which is difficult to investigate and prosecute.[i] As a result, staying aware of different scamming techniques is an important way to protect yourself and your family. Here are a couple of common financial scams that are specifically used to target seniors.

  1. Funeral and Cemetery Fraud

For many retirees, paying ahead on your funeral and cemetery expenses can help ease the burden for your family during a time of grief. Unfortunately, these prepaid contracts can come with undesirable outcomes: Deceptive operators overcharge you for services and list themselves as your financial beneficiaries.[ii] Although regulatory standards are in place to protect people during these transactions, the laws vary by state, which leave openings for people to defraud unsuspecting customers.[iii]

When entering into these arrangements, ensure that you scrutinize your contract details and compare costs between providers so you understand the market. Since different states require you to buy different goods and services, ensure you know which laws apply where you or your loved one intend to hold your funeral and burial.[iv]

  1. Grandparent Scams

Another common way that people can try to defraud you is by calling you and claiming to be a relative in need of money. When doing so, con artists pretend to be family members such as grandchildren or a representative of relatives. They typically call late at night and claim they need you to wire them money immediately to help them out of trouble.[v] They could claim the money is for bail, hospital fees, or other urgent financial needs. To keep up the ruse and avoid suspicion, they will also request that you don’t tell other relatives, like their parents, who would disapprove.[vi] By doing this, they create emotional bonds that you are the only person they can trust and who can help.

If you receive a call from someone claiming to be your relative and asking you to wire money, do not do anything. First, contact your relative’s other family members to validate the person’s story. If you cannot verify the story, you may be a victim of attempted fraud.

You can report Grandparent Fraud to:

  • The local police department
  • Your state’s attorney general’s office
  • org, a project of the National Consumers League

These financial frauds are just a snapshot of the various ways criminals can try to take advantage of you and your money, and seniors are especially vulnerable. We encourage you to continue educating yourself and your family about fraud and stay aware. If you would like to discuss any financial concerns you may have or simply revisit your personal financial details with us, we would be happy to talk with you.