BUFFALO, N.Y. - Financial fraud has been on the rise in recent years. Unfortunately, many people try to enrich themselves by taking advantage of others, and their targets often include seniors.
M&T Bank trains its staff to help prevent financial abuse of the elderly and also looks to educate customers on ways they can prevent fraud. In recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, which was June 15, the bank is sharing the following tips that can be useful to consumers of all ages and particularly helpful to prevent crimes often targeting the elderly:
Contact your bank or financial institution if a request looks suspicious.
With almost all banks, you can find the customer service phone number on your bank statement or the back of your bank card.
If somebody contacts you stating they are from your bank to ask for personal information, such as your Social Security number, call your bank directly to verify this request.
Respond cautiously to in-person, phone, mail or Internet solicitation.
Nobody should ask you to send them money unless you have chosen to buy something from them.
Be wary of people claiming to be from the IRS, a utility company, an insurance company or a bank who seek immediate funding to settle a debt.
Beware checks from strangers.
Fraud artists often ask innocent victims to deposit a check and then send a portion of the money back to them immediately via wire or by funding a prepaid card. In these cases, the check is often no good.
Avoid lottery scams.
A good number of seniors enter bank branches carrying checks that are accompanied by letters telling them they won a foreign lottery.
The check is supposed to "pay taxes" and the lottery winnings will be delivered after the "taxes" are wired to an individual.
This is a scam.
Inheritance notifications are often false. Similar to a lottery fraud, we see individuals who receive letters indicating they've inherited money and need to wire a specific amount to cover taxes and processing fees.
If an out-of-the-blue inheritance notice sounds too good to be true, it probably is not true.
Romance cons are more common.
These situations are often targeted at lonely seniors with Web access.
A scam artist will post profile looking for companionship and strike up a relationship with their target.
After a certain level of trust has been established, they will ask their target to send money for airplane tickets, medical expenses or some other reason.
"These scams are all very real and we've seen many cases where we've been able to help seniors avoid becoming victims.
By staying informed about fraud and protecting personal information, seniors in our communities can help themselves," said Andy Infante, vice president of enterprise security at M&T Bank.
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) was launched on June 15, 2006, by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations.
The purpose of the day is to provide an opportunity for communities to promote a better understanding by raising awareness of the cultural, social and economic aspects of elder abuse and neglect.