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Seniors may be more financially savvy than ever, but that doesn’t mean the unscrupulous have stopped preying on the unsuspecting. We’ve explored scare tactics and myths used to warn seniors away from reverse mortgages, how seniors can safeguard cyber accounts, and more recently, the importance of elder advocacy for concerns ranging from health to finances.
With the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, it’s especially important to be aware of schemes to defraud seniors of their savings, which are sometimes cloaked as medical assistance. Scam artists have become more creative: seniors may receive mailings for “medical treatments” that appear to be endorsed by actual physicians. For someone with a life threatening or chronic illness, such a letter can be quite compelling — and an easy way to hook a hopeful senior into a long-term financial drain.
To help protect seniors from financial abuse, the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging has launched a toll-free anti-fraud hotline. If a senior, their family member, or anyone involved in working with seniors (such as a HECM professional) suspects abuse, they can call 1-855-303-9470. The hotline is staffed M-F from 9 am to 5 pm EST by a team of investigators who are experienced in identifying investment scams, phony sweepstakes and lotteries, Medicare and Social Security fraud, and a variety of other potential areas of senior exploitation.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is another excellent resource to protect seniors from financial predators. The CFPB educates consumers and acts as a watchdog group for fiduciaries, by supervising banks, credit unions and other financial companies, and enforcing federal consumer financial laws. Anyone with a complaint can submit it via the CFPB website, or by calling toll-free: 855-411-2372. The website provides an informative segment on reverse mortgage, as well as a special section focused on financial protection for older Americans that includes a downloadable resource guide.
One of the simplest suggestions to safeguard senior savings is to verify any information a senior receives that they have not requested. Suggest a senior check out any intriguing offer with a trusted family member or financial advisor. If the information is medically related, they would be wise to consult their physician about the product or service before taking any action. This is the best way to protect seniors from financial fraud, and to preserve their fiscal and physical health.