Just browse through the latest true crime documentaries on your preferred streaming network and you’ll see that people of all ages and income levels are vulnerable to financial scammers. Unfortunately, as we get older, certain factors put us at greater risk. Social isolation, recent loss of a spouse or close family member, diminished cognitive abilities, and accumulated wealth can make those over age 60 especially attractive to fraudsters.

According to the FBI, there was a 74% increase in losses reported by victims over age 60 in 2021 compared with losses reported by the same age group in 2020. To keep yourself and loved ones safe from senior scams, ask yourself these questions before you transfer money.

Am I being asked for a payment up-front to receive funds in the future? Advance-fee scams promise that if you pay a sum of money now, you’ll receive a much larger amount in the future. Of course, the victim of this scam will never actually receive the promised funds. This can take different forms, such as in lottery or romance scams. In one common scenario, for example, the scammer claims to have an inheritance in an individual’s name, but states that taxes or fees need to be paid to a government entity or entities for the victim to receive the inheritance.

Jeremy Self

Is there an urgency attached to the request for funds? Government agencies, well-known companies and banks don’t typically ask for immediate money transfers. If you find yourself being rushed to provide cash as soon as possible, start with the assumption that the request isn’t legitimate. One way to do this is to call the institution back at a phone number you’ve used before or that you find on its website, not the contact information in the request.

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