Protection Article | Transamerica

Fraud: A Retiree Growth Industry?

Annual losses from financial fraud continue to increase as perpetrators look for ways to tap into the money that retirees have worked so hard to put in their bank accounts. Here are a few of the common types of fraud and tips for prevention.

Common types of fraud Transamerica I Fraud: A retiree growth industry

  • Identity theft: retirees have spent their lives building their credit and sources of income. They are also generally less likely to report a case of identify theft than younger people because they are afraid of appearing unable to fully handle their own affairs. Identity thieves know this and take advantage of it as much as possible.
  • Prizes, sweepstakes, and lotteries: these scams promise you big money, but only after you've spent your own (e.g., to cover upfront taxes or shipping and handling fees.) If you're really a winner, you won't be asked to pay and you shouldn't have to buy things to enter.
  • Medicare fraud: people sometimes pose as Medicare representatives to persuade retirees to provide their personal information. Unnecessary and sometimes fake medical services are also offered through health clubs or retirement homes and then  later billed to insurance companies or Medicare.
  • Telephone services: telemarketing scams often include offers of fake products and services and can involve the promise of free prizes. There are also instances when someone calls to "alert' you that a credit card has been stolen or used then requests sensitive financial information.
  • Reverse mortgage scams: the loans that are supposed to help homeowners, age 62 and older, stay in their homes are being exploited by unscrupulous real estate and financial services professionals. Victims are generally offered free homes, investment opportunities, and foreclosure or refinance assistance.

Ways to prevent fraud

  • Shred any documents (e.g. receipts, account statements, etc.) that contain your credit card number or other personal information.
  • Don't buy from, or contribute to, unknown or unfamiliar solicitors.
  • Inquire about written material to substantiate any offers or claims.
  • Never sign blank insurance claim forms.
  • Only give insurance/Medicare identification to those who provide you with medical services.
  • Don't sign anything that you don't fully understand—seek the advice of a trusted financial professional or family member.
  • Never give out any personal information (e.g., credit card, banking, Social Security, health insurance or Medicare info) over the phone unless you initiated the call.
  • Do not respond to unsolicited advertisements.
  • Never make a check out to an individual for investments. Write checks out to a company or firm to make sure your money is going where it's supposed to go.
  • Don't isolate yourself. Maintain connections with others in your community, such as friends, neighbors, or clergy, so you can share your complaints or suspicions.

If you suspect that you are a victim of fraud, inform the appropriate authorities and seek help immediately.