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Common Financial Scams to Avoid
Many fraudsters are skilled at taking advantage of all consumers, especially retirees. Here are some of the most common financial scams to avoid:
- Medicare/Health Insurance Scam: “Hi, my name is John, and I’m just calling different people to talk about ways we can help you lower your health care costs. All we need to get started is your current medical information.”
- Lottery and Sweepstakes Scam: “You’ve won $1 million! Please send $2,000 to cover your taxes by wire transfer, or you can send a check to our office.”
- Counterfeit Prescription Drug Scam: “If you’re looking for a way to lower your prescription costs, order through our company. All we need to get started is your financial information.”
- Home Repair Scams: “You need a new roof, and we’re here to help. Pre-pay for our service and we’ll get you set up right away.”
- Jail Scam: “This is Officer Jones. Your grandson was put in jail last night and his bail is $1,000. If you give me your account information, we’ll take out the funds immediately for his quick release.”
- False Charity Scam (commonly occurs after disasters): “We’re collecting funds to help those affected by the recent tornado in your area. Simply give me your account information and I can take care of your donation over the phone.”
- Funeral and Cemetery Scams: “Hi, this is Bill. I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your husband, Mike. He owed me $1,000, and I wanted to see when I could expect to receive payment.”
Tips to Help You Avoid Financial Fraud
- Monitor your accounts regularly and report any unauthorized transactions immediately to your financial institution.
- Keep your personal financial information secure. Never leave receipts, bank statements, or credit card offers (or even a checkbook) lying around your home. You should also shred receipts or documents before you throw them away.
- Don’t give financial information to anyone over the phone or online unless you’ve initiated the communication and the “receiver” is a trusted source.
- Review your credit report at least once a year — you can order it for free at www.annualcreditreport.com
- Check all references, certifications, and other credentials before you hire anyone to help with home repairs. Pay for the service using your debit or credit card so there is a paper trail should something happen.
- Above all else, if something doesn’t feel right, or you feel pressured in any way, walk away. Never say “yes” to something you either don’t fully understand or want to do. If you feel you’ve been a victim of financial fraud, or if you think someone you know may be a victim, contact your financial institution immediately.
Content is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal or financial advice. The views expressed are those of the author.