Column, Money Matters

Scams on the rise

By Kevin Theissen

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) found in a recent study that one in five adults over age 50 knows a family member who has been victim to a scam. The Federal Trade Commission reported 96,000 victims over the age of 60 just in the first quarter of this year, along with losses of $300 million.

While you might think that digital and online security should be getting better and easier, you might feel overwhelmed especially as it relates to financial information. If you are a little older, you might feel less tech-savvy and find these scams upsetting and more difficult to understand.

Protecting your financial life or helping to protect your parents’ starts with maintaining continual awareness of all financial account balances, titling, beneficiaries, transactions, and activity. As we age, this increasingly becomes more of a challenge.

One way to protect yourself is to add a trusted contact for your financial accounts. A trusted contact is a person that you authorize your bank or brokerage firm to notify in limited circumstances, such as if your advisor has trouble reaching you or believes that your account could be susceptible to financial exploitation. This does not give them authority to make decisions on your account as they only serve for financial companies to get in contact with you when there is suspected fraud. You should also make sure that your financial advisor knows and has contact information for your trusted contacts, and family members.

Emails, texts, and phone calls are the primary delivery methods for financial scams, so you need to avoid opening suspicious emails, texts and calls from people you don’t know. To help protect yourself from these types of scams, you can sign-up for AARP’s Fraud Watch Network which informs about the latest scams. You can also sign-up for alerts with your bank, brokerage and credit card companies.

So, this summer, especially if you are on vacation, don’t answer the phone, don’t give out personal information to anyone you don’t know, including your grandchildren who probably don’t make phone calls anyway – as texting is much more common among those under 35 years old.

Kevin Theissen is the owner and financial advisor of HWC Financial in Ludlow.

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