Seniors Easy Targets of Financial Fraud and Identity Theft

 Posted on June 08, 2016 in Fraud

Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal lawyer, Cook County defense lawyerIn America, everyone is at risk of being a victim of financial fraud. For seniors, however, the risk is unfortunately higher. Seniors are easy targets for criminals pursuing financial fraud or identity theft, and nationwide there are five million financial fraud cases involving senior citizens each year. Criminals continue to target seniors because they often do not realize they are being taken advantage of, and a large majority of fraud cases involving seniors do not ever get reported. Below we explain why senior citizens are at serious risk of financial fraud, and the most common ways criminals exploit them.

Why Are Seniors at Risk?

Cases of financial fraud are often underreported, and many others are caught too late. Many instances of financial fraud are detected long after the crime has been committed, making it difficult for law enforcement officials to track down the perpetrators. In many cases involving bank fraud, banks will handle the situation internally, meaning that these types of cases do not get reported often. In other cases, experts say people do not know the proper channels to report the crime committed against them, and just accept their losses.

Seniors are prime targets for scammers and those hoping to steal identities. Criminals know that seniors are likely to own their own home, have savings and retirement accounts, and have high credit scores. In general, seniors are often home a majority of the time, meaning they are more readily available when criminals come calling. Some seniors are disabled. Others are willing to open their homes to strangers out of loneliness. Additionally, seniors as a whole are more trusting compared to other generations, meaning they are likely to believe a criminal is intending to help, not hurt them.

Many seniors do not monitor their own finances, meaning that cases of financial fraud may not be detected for months or years afterwards. Financial fraud against seniors is particularly underreported, for a number of reasons. Seniors often do not know how to go about reporting the crimes committed against them. Other seniors are ashamed. Others fear losing their independence, worrying that if relatives find out they are victims of financial fraud the relatives may deem them unfit to live on their own or handle their own finances.

Common Types of Financial Crimes against Seniors

Criminals employ a variety of creative tactics to scam senior citizens out of their assets. Telemarketing scams make up a large portion of financial fraud cases against seniors. In America, telemarketing scams account for $40 billion loses a year from citizens, and 80 percent of victims of telemarketing scams are 50 years old or older. Scammers often call selling items that do not really exist, trying to obtain personal information to steal identities, asking for investments, or attempting lottery fraud. Specialists say adding your phone number to your state's “Do Not Call” list is a great way to avoid a majority of these scams.

Home repair scams are another common type of financial fraud committed against seniors. Scammers may go door-to-door, informing elderly homeowners that they need work done on their homes. In many cases, seniors with mobility issues are unable to actually see certain parts of the exterior of their home, and end up paying for work that did not need to be done in the first place. Or the scammer will overcharge for work they do. Advocates say with any home improvement project, a second opinion should be called upon, and contracts should be drawn before any work begins.

Mortgage Fraud

Reverse mortgage fraud is common against senior citizens. Reverse mortgages are available to elderly citizens, and allow them to convert the equity in their home to income. Scammers often attempt to swindle seniors out of the proceeds of their reverse mortgage through a variety of tactics including equity theft and foreclosure rescue.

Serious Penalties for Financial Fraud

At the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel LLC, Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney, we are specialized in representing clients charged with white collar crimes such as identity theft and mortgage fraud. Serious charges like these can be life altering and typically carry with them heavy fines and jail time, so it is vital that you work with a qualified Chicago area criminal defense attorney. Do not hesitate to inquire about our services. Call 312-629-0669 to learn more about how we can help you today.

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