Common Elder Financial Abuse Schemes

Keeping Grandma Safe Online- 6 Common Elder Financial Abuse Schemes to Warn her About.

Every year the number of Senior Citizens using the internet is increasing. According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 53% of adults over the age of 65 are now using internet and online tools such as email. Among those, 70% are going online daily. The 70% that are using the internet daily is contributed mainly to the influx of seniors now using Smartphones. Smartphone ownership among seniors grew by 38% from 2012 to 2013.

Smartphones and the internet can be an excellent ways to keep in touch with friends, loved ones, and out of state relatives. It can be a way to become more organized or to keep your brain active. It can also be an easy place to fall prey to online predators without even knowing you are being targeted. It can be easy to fall victim for anyone, but especially if you are unfamiliar with the World Wide Web.

Most of the time online Elder Abuse is targeted towards financial gains.  Unlike other types of Elder Abuse, online Elder Abuse is completely preventable. Like any good tool, it is most effective when you are taught to use it properly by someone who knows what they are doing.

Take the time not only to show Grandma how to use the internet and what to look out for online. Below you will find some Common Elder Financial Abuse Schemes.

Elder Financial Abuse can also be known as ” financial exploitation”

  • Auction Fraud

Everyone loves a good deal, and what appears as a “good deal” can seem especially appealing to someone on a fixed income. With Auction sites popping up all over the internet, it is a good chance Grandma will come across one at some point. Take the time to show Grandma some of the reputable sites such as Ebay, and then show her some things to watch out for. To be extra cautious set Grandma up with Paypal account and teach her how to use it. It will give you both more peace of mind when she is shopping on the internet.

  • Counterfeit Cashier’s Check

Did Grandma clean out the attic and find a bunch of vintage clothes that she now insists on selling online? Well make sure to warn her about accepting counterfeit cashier’s checks. Many buyers will send fraudulent cashier’s check, when Grandma takes it to the bank they will release the money to her immediately; however a week later once there is time to process the payment the bank will automatically debit that money from her bank account to cover the expense of the previously cashed cashier’s check.

  • Credit Card Fraud Debt Elimination

Now that Grandma is all set up with email she will likely start to receive some enticing offers such as debt elimination. All it takes is a $1000 along with all of her personal financial information… But don’t forget the power of attorney authorizing this individual to enter into transactions on behalf of Grandma! The individual from the debt elimination company then issues bonds and promissory notes to Grandma that purport to legally satisfy the debts of the participant as long as she pays a certain percentage of the values to the schemer. Additionally, the potential risk of identity theft related to individuals who use debt elimination companies is extremely high because they are providing all of their personal information to the unknown third party.

  • Lotteries

If you were raised to believe that if it something seems too good to be true then it probably is; then it may be hard for you to fathom someone actually falling for a lottery scheme. However, for someone who is new to emailing and unfamiliar with “Spam” it can seem like all an answer sent from above.

There are many variations of Lottery schemes out there but the premise is the same. The email message will usually be from an International lottery and the email message usually reads something along the lines of:

“This is to inform you of the release of money winnings to you. Your email was randomly selected as the winner and therefore you have been approved for a lump sum payout of $5000,000.00. To begin your lottery claim, please contact the processing company selected to process your winnings.”

Once Grandma calls the agency to begin the process they will request all of her personal information as well as a “processing fee”.

  • Phishing/Spoofing

Phishing/Spoofing will likely be the toughest to explain to Grandma. It can also be the hardest to recognize for anyone, especially for someone who unaware of what Phishing/Spoofing even is. In non-tech talk, phishing/spoofing is forged electronic documents, websites, or emails, which appear to come from an established/trusted company, such as your bank or wireless provider.

For example, customers of Sprint Wireless were receiving bills via email notifying them that they had an outstanding balance and to call a certain number to pay the amount or else their account would be sent to collections. When the customer calls the number the individual asks them for their account information and password, then demands that they pay the “past due amount” by credit card over the phone as opposed to going to a retail location or paying online via their web portal.

The reason that Phishing/Spoofing is the hardest to catch is because fraudsters know how to replicate bills and websites to mock the real deal. Just tell Grandma to be weary of anyone requesting personal information over the phone, and to always error on the side of caution.

  • Employment/Business Opportunities

While Grandma may be enjoying surfing the web at home or on her mobile device, that doesn’t mean that she isn’t bored. So when she sees an ad pop up online regarding an opportunity to make “big money” while working at home she may be more intrigued than you think.

A growing trend is for subjects, usually foreign, post “work-at-home” job offers soliciting assistance from United States citizens. Usually the individual is looking for someone to accept funds from other victims purchasing goods from an internet auction site. Once Grandma receives those funds she just has to transfer a percentage of the money to the employer and gets to keep the difference for herself. The problem is that the funds that Grandma received is a fraudulent money order which will take the bank weeks to catch; but once they do you can bet that they will take that money back from Grandma even though she will not be able to recover the amount she has sent to her new employer.

While it is important to encourage Grandma to keep up with the times and to learn how to use the internet, it is equally important for her to learn how to use it safely. You would do anything to prevent Grandma from falling victim to any other type of elder abuse, so make sure to take the time to make sure she doesn’t become the next victim of online elder abuse.

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