Depending on who you ask, anywhere from 10 to 40 percent of older Americans fall victim to financial fraud.
But it’s not just the very old with limited capacity who get taken. According to a new study in the American Journal of Public Health, 1 in 18 “cognitively intact” older adults get snookered each year.
How does this happen? People of all ages receive emails asking for validation of account information, notifications of contest or lottery winnings, or entreaties from friends or relatives who are in peril. With so many attempted scams, how do you keep the clients who depend on you safe from online fraud?
There are resources that can be helpful, including the AARP Fraud Watch Network and IRS Tax Scam Alerts. Using these resources as a start, compile a branded handout detailing the most frequent scams so your clients know what to watch out for. And speak openly with clients. Be mindful, though, that some may be sensitive about any suggestion that they could be marks. Emphasize that anyone, no matter what their age, can fall victim to fraud if they don’t remain alert. Fraud comes in many guises far more sophisticated than a grammatically questionable email from a foreign embassy official offering to wire money.
Ask your clients to remain vigilant and inform you of any attempts to separate them from their money. Emphasize that if there is even the remotest doubt regarding the legitimacy of an email, they should under no circumstances click on a link, open an attachment, or offer any personal information. Ask your clients to forward emails to you if there’s any question.
Moreover, remind clients that anyone who phones and refuses to give a call back number or insists that immediate action is necessary is most certainly not on the up-and-up. If in doubt, just hang up.
If the worst happens and your client discloses personal information or clicks on a link, tell them to call you immediately under such circumstances. You can assist the client in changing passwords, alerting the authorities, or taking any other action necessary to safeguard their assets and information security.
For more on how to help your clients stay safe from fraud, please read:
How To Talk to Seniors about Fraud | Wealth Management