Fraud has been a hot topic this year, between fake IRS scams and retailer data breaches. However, one segment of the population may be especially at risk. Millions of seniors are being taken advantage of financially – in the form of inappropriate investment, unreasonably high fees for financial services, or other forms of fraud. It’s estimated that almost one in five Americans over age 65 has been a victim of elder financial abuse.
As CPAs, we are always looking out for our clients and their needs. Each client’s needs are different, and we are especially aware of the tactics used to target older individuals. We do everything we can as CPAs to protect our clients and their investments. Here are some of the tips the AICPA has for older clients or those who are in a position to help them combat fraud.
- Shred away. Invest in a shredder. The moment you are finished with sensitive documents, put them through the shredder. This includes bank and credit card statements, receipts, and other financial information. Simply throwing them away doesn’t work: people intent on stealing personal information will dig through your trash can to find it.
- Get it in writing. If you get a phone call about an offer or a charitable contribution, tell the caller to send something in the mail. Have them include the name of the organization, phone number, address, and business license number. Go over all this information carefully before doing business with anyone.
- Keep personal information private. Never give out credit card, banking, social security, or any other personal information over the phone, unless you initiated the call. Even then, if you are feeling uncomfortable about proceeding, end the call and tell the other party to contact you by mail.
- Remember the old adage, “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.”
A trusted CPA is always a helpful resource in protecting consumers from fraud. The full article about elder abuse can be found here. Give our office a call if our CPAs can help in any way.