If you read my last blog post about Preventing Senior Financial Exploitation, you learned that financial fraud is extremely prevalent. Although protecting yourself or a loved one can seem overwhelming and near-impossible, there are several resources available to help.
In this post, I’ve laid out specific proactive measures you can take secure your identity.
First of all, if you ever suspect that you’ve been a victim of fraud, contact Adult Protective Services for assistance.
- By phone: 1-800-677-1116
- Website: www.eldercare.acl.gov
Suspicious or “Phishy” Phone Calls
If an unknown solicitor calls you, here’s a good template response: “I never buy from/give to anyone who calls me unannounced. Please send me something in writing or direct me to your website.” Then, collect the caller’s name, phone number, street address (not a P.O. box), and what company/organization they’re calling from.
Sign up for the National Do Not Call List to reduce the amount of spam phone calls you receive.
- By phone: 1-888-382-1222
- Website: www.donotcall.gov
Keeping Your Finances Secure
Check your credit report on an annual basis. You can check your credit reports from all three agencies for free once per year. The below website is the only credit report website approved by the federal government.
Meet with an Elder Law Attorney to ensure your assets are protected from creditors, bankruptcy, and to preserve current or future MassHealth benefits. Elder law attorneys can also assist you with creating documents that allow people you trust to help you manage your assets and weed out scammers.
Use direct deposit for government benefits instead of receiving paper checks. The Social Security Administration actually requires direct deposit now due to the prevalence of scams targeting recipients of retirement benefits. Never give your credit card information, Social Security number, banking information, or any other personal information over the phone unless you are familiar with the other person, organization, or agency. Even little things – like your mother’s maiden name or the street you grew up on – can give scammers access to your assets and sensitive personal information.
- National Council on Aging (www.ncoa.org)
- Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (www.stopfraud.gov)
- Fraud Fighter Call Center (1-800-646-2283)
- Federal Trade Commission Complaint Assistant (www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov)
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint)
- Elder Law Attorney Locator (www.naela.org/findlawyer)