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We mark June 15 and gave it special attention because it’s World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. It is a great reminder of what is facing our world’s elders. Unfortunately for your Credit Union’s elder members, this year’s news is as bad as it can get.

According to several prominent sources, the number of scams perpetrated against elders during the 2020 “Cyberdemic” skyrocketed, creating the perfect storm for those also most vulnerable to the Covid19 pandemic.

According to the 2020 FTC report, elders have had the most staggering increase in fraud and ID theft attacks among all demographics. Elder abuse rose from 325,000 in 2001 to 3.4 Million victims in 2019, followed by the most significant single-year increase in history, when the number of victims surged to 4.7 million in 2020.

According to FBI statistics, seniors lost over $3 billion in financial scams in 2020. With reported fraud losses for elders topping $3.3 billion, this represented an increase of almost $1.5 billion over 2019. And as the Boomer demographic continues to age, these kinds of statistics will likely get worse.

The FTC report noted that “fraud (46.3%) and identity theft (29.4%) make up the majority of reports received”. And it also points out that for those 60 years and older, the most active type of ID theft is government documents or benefits fraud, consisting of 46% of all types reported. In particular, unemployment benefits fraud has been a nightmare for millions of Americans over the past two years.

A fascinating aspect of this onslaught against elders is that, according to the FBI, seniors are generally more hesitant to report fraud and financial losses than other demographics. The FBI’s theory on this statistical anomaly is that it could be a lack of understanding of how to report attacks and fear of losing control over their finances.

Elders in California, Florida, and Texas should be on high alert since these states have had the highest amounts of elder fraud and ID theft attacks. The worst-ranked state is California, which had a total loss in 2020 of $152 million for victims over 60 years old.

Credit unions should ensure their members are aware of the top elder abuse scams that are likely to occur in 2022: 

  1. Romance Scams – Representing the single most dangerous, and often most challenging to stop, of all the scams for ALL age groups. But in particular, the seniors in our society get preyed upon more than any other demographic. It involves so much emotion and is a sad and sick crime for them to endure. Per the FBI, it is critical for elders to “go slowly into relationships and ask lots of questions”…and “if it seems too perfect, it probably is.”
  2. Imposter Scams – This scam is a devious game of “who is it?” as fraudsters take on the identity of someone you might think you can trust. They will portray anyone to gain access to your information, even Government agency officials, bank representatives, or your long-lost friends and family members. They want elders to reveal their passwords or any financial information, including account numbers.
  3. Tech Support Scams – The tech scammers are perhaps the most difficult to detect. First, they unexpectedly jump into your dialog with a significant company like Amazon, Microsoft, or any major streaming service on your smartTV. Then, once they convince you they are helping you through a real problem, they tap into your computer or phone and start creating nightmares. In 2019, these scammers stole $24 million from elders.

So, what is the takeaway from this day of awareness for you and your credit union? Give your elder members ID theft and fraud protection they could not trust from any other source. Your credit union can offer this service at a fraction of the cost your members would pay for it from somewhere else. The NECUL business partner for these ID Protective services has a unique program called ElderIDPro….covering ALL ELDERS in your credit union, unlike any other resource in the ID theft solutions industry.

For more information and how to protect your credit union from all type of scams contact James McCabe, Executive Vice President, Identity Theft Solutions @ 480-748-0403 or jmccabe@veroproducts.com