Our time is an age filled with fraud. Scams can be found everywhere: over the phone, the internet, and even the mail. Many scams are designs to target older adults, playing to their distinct needs. And identity theft has become very widespread, with many varieties of identity-stealing scams currently in use. Luckily, you can find ways to keep yourself and your loved ones safe. This article provides links to websites that explain the various kinds of scams and how to avoid them, books and video, opens a new window resources, and info on our upcoming online event, Lunch & Learn: Avoiding Common Healthcare Scams, opens a new window (11/17/23). Learn how scams operate and what to do about them with CRRL’s help.
Identifying Identity Theft
Identity theft has become a major problem for people of all ages in the U.S., and these resources can help you understand it. The U.S. News & World Report article "10 Ways to Prevent Identity Theft", opens a new window (includes ads) defines identity theft and provides the top 10 recommended steps you can take to prevent your identity from being stolen. The Federal Trade Commission's How to Protect Your Child From Identity Theft, opens a new window explains how criminals obtain a child’s identity, how you can tell if someone is using your child’s personal information, and what to do about it. Nerdwallet’s Identity Theft, opens a new window page details 7 types of identity theft and their warning signs, as well as how to report identity theft and the best ID theft protection services. The federal site on Identity Theft, opens a new window also provides information on warning signs of identity theft and how to prevent it, and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a site, opens a new window to report any ID theft you have experienced.
Scams Targeting Older Adults
Many types of scams and fraud are targeted at older adults to exploit their perceived vulnerabilities, and older people should learn and take special caution to avoid these crimes. Elder Abuse Resource Roadmap, opens a new window is a site that allows you to easily find resources that you or a loved one might need through a multiple-choice menu, linking to additional resources and agencies. The AARP Fraud Watch Network, opens a new window is a free resource that allows you to report scams and view scam reports, look up scams targeting seniors, and connect with AARP’s online community to discuss their experiences. Virginia’s Adult Protective Services has a Financial Exploitation, opens a new window site that has a downloadable information sheet on preventing financial exploitation, a video explaining how common financial scams targeting older adults work, and links to additional agencies and groups to help you out. And the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, opens a new window (CFPB) has a site on protecting older adults from financial exploitation with resources for consumers, their caregivers, and financial institutions. Also take a look at Virginia Senior Medicare Patrol, opens a new window, which features a news blog on fraud, outreach and counseling services and tip sheets with info on scams targeting older adults.
Fraud by Mail, Email, and Phone
All long-distance communication has fraudsters, be it email, phone, or even old-fashioned “snail mail.” There are several sites that can provide you with tools and advice to make your life more secure. DMA Choice, opens a new window is a website by the ANA (Association of National Advertisers) that allows you to opt out of and reduce commercial mailings and marketing messages, which can reduce the risk of mail fraud. The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) has a page on Package Delivery Scams, opens a new window that explains the tricks these types of scams use. Usa.gov’s Imposter Scams, opens a new window site explains the types of imposter scams and how to report them. The Do Not Call Registry, opens a new window allows you to report unwanted calls, register your phone to avoid telemarketer calls, and verify your registration. Opt Out PreScreen, opens a new window allows you to opt out of offers of credit and insurance from major companies, which can reduce credit fraud. And the IRS has information on tax scams, opens a new window, detailing how fraudsters will attempt to pose as the IRS to steal your info. The FTC has a site to report financial fraud, opens a new window, the Postal Service has a site to report mail fraud, opens a new window, and the FBI has a site to report internet crime, opens a new window.
CRRL’s Scam Resources
CRRL has plenty of resources on fraud for you as well. Our collection features many useful books and videos, opens a new window on the types of fraud you’ll commonly encounter. We also offer live events about fraud to educate the community. Our latest is Lunch & Learn: Avoiding Common Healthcare Scams, opens a new window. Offered on Friday, November 17, 2023, this event teaches about common healthcare scams and shares resources that can be used to keep yourself safe.