Elder fraud on the rise

Terry RogersHeadlines, Health, Milford Headline Story

Delaware Hospice offers tips to protect seniors from elder fraud which is on the rise

Delaware Hospice recently reported that elder fraud is on the rise, not only in Delaware but across the country. One that is often perpetuated successfully against seniors is the multilayered “phantom hacker” or “tech support” scam. To date,$542 million was transferred to fraudsters between January and June 2023. Two-thirds of those victimized were persons over age sixty-five! Here are three different types of fraud that are directed not only at seniors but others as well.

A call, email, or text is received “from tech support” at a company such as Microsoft, telling the victim their computer has been hacked. The scammer requests the victim download special computer-sharing software “to allow a virus scan.” In fact, this allows the hackers to see the victim’s financial information.

Another scam involves someone contacting the victim “from” their bank or brokerage firm, falsely confirming they have been hacked. The victim is told to transfer funds to a “protected third-party account.”

An older person may get a call “from” the IRS, Federal Reserve, or saying their money can be protected by transferring it to special foreign accounts set up for this very purpose. Methods include wire transfer, cash, or cryptocurrency. Sometimes a letter is sent by mail on official-looking letterhead. Sadly, this step drains the victim’s accounts.

If you have an elderly family member, there are some tips you can follow to protect them. First, tell them not to respond to calls, emails, or texts advising “you’ve been hacked.” Do not take any steps suggested. If they do receive a message alerting them to problems, do not use any phone number or link that’s provided. Use another device to get the phone number of the company in question, and call directly.

Remind them to never let a person unknown to them download computer-sharing software. It is important to note that credible institutions do not ask you to transfer money by cash, gift card, or cryptocurrency nor do they call asking for passwords or user names.

If your loved one is at all suspicious, they should hang up immediately and contact a trusted friend or family member. You can contact the FBI at www.ic3.gov to investigate whether this is a fraud call or not.

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