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Eight Tips to Avoid Financial Fraud and Abuse

In a recent virtual seminar, Apple Bank, the Brooklyn Public Library and the IRS, Criminal Investigation Division, shared the latest financial scam trends and how elders can protect themselves.


$3 billion. That’s how much 13% of American elders lose to financial fraud and abuse each year, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.Fraudsters create new scams daily, and, sadly, the pandemic created more fraud opportunities through Economic Impact Payments, false vaccine information, and other COVID-19-related scams.

“Unfortunately, this is something we see on a daily basis,” said Steve Bush, CEO of Apple Bank, who said the bank has seen a rise in fraud since the pandemic.

Only 1 in 44 incidents of elder financial abuse are reported due to embarrassment, retribution, and fear of losing independence.2 But, remember, you are not alone. Anyone could easily become a victim of fraud.

To help protect yourself and your loved ones from financial fraud and abuse, Apple Bank recently teamed up with the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, and the Brooklyn Public Library to host a virtual webinar about COVID-19 and Income Tax-related scams. During the virtual seminar, participants learned best practices to avoid scams, and were provided with valuable information on how to identify and prevent financial abuse, report incidents and understand how banks, regulators and law enforcement play a role in prevention. Here are their top tips:

 

1. Be mindful of what you share on social media

  • Don’t post your vaccination card. Scammers could use that information to steal your identity.

2. Ignore unsolicited COVID offers and claims

  • Beware of fraudsters who promise testing or vaccination appointments in exchange for your Medicaid and Medicare information.

  • Remember: There is no cure for the COVID-19 virus. Anyone who claims to have one is a scammer.

3. Look out for fraudsters in plain sight

  • It’s nice to be neighborly, but be cautious about allowing people you do not know well to run errands or perform financial tasks for you.

4. Know the IRS will never threaten you or demand immediate payments.

  • If the IRS does contact you, they will send multiple letters before calling or visiting your home. Remember: You have the right to see their badge number and call the IRS at 1-800-366-4484 to verify the agent’s identity.

5. Never click a suspicious email

  • Fraudsters are good at sending emails that look legitimate, but contain harmful links. The IRS will never email you. Read more about phishing here.

6. Caregivers: Be prepared for bank employees to ask to speak to your loved one alone.

  • All Apple Bank employees are trained to verify the customer is acting of their own will and is not being coerced by a family member or third party.

7. Be cautious if a banker contacts you.

  • If you are unsure about the bank's identity, the best thing to do is to hang up and call them directly.

8. Have a parent in cognitive decline? You can protect them, even from afar.

Get more tips and learn exactly what COVID-19 scams the IRS, Criminal Investigation Division, has uncovered by watching the full webinar:

 

Read the seminar transcript here.


1United States Department of Justice. (2021, April 28). Elder Justice. Justice.gov.
https://www.justice.gov/usao-ndwv/programs/elder-justice
2National Adult Protective Services Association. (2021). Elder Financial Exploitation. NAPSA-Now.org.
https://www.napsa-now.org/get-informed/exploitation-resources/