“Elder Abuse” Includes Financial Scams

Tomorrow is International Elder Abuse Awareness Dayunhappy senior couple 150x150 “Elder Abuse” Includes Financial Scams , as declared by the United Nations. The UN defines elder abuse as “a single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person.” That can mean physical, psychological or emotional, sexual and financial abuse.

BBB hears about a lot of financial abuse of seniors, primarily in the form of scams that target this age group. Two in particular are scams involving prizes, sweepstakes and lotteries; and the emergency or grandparent scam, where the scammer pretends a family member is in trouble, and requests that money be sent urgently to help.

In 2012, we joined forces with Western Union to get the word out about these and other scams. We created BBB Scam Stopper, a site to help consumers reduce their chances of becoming a victim of a scam.

BBB Scam Stopper explains the science of scams and how scammers gain their victims’ trust. Visitors can also sign up to receive BBB Scam Alerts, weekly emails with the latest scams reported to BBBs across North America, and can Report a Scam to BBB so we can warn others.

BBB has been warning consumers about scams for a century, and it looks like we will be doing it for at least another hundred years. Thanks to the Internet, it’s gotten even easier for scammers to find victims. They can lie in ads, create fake websites and social media pages, construct entire fake personas, carry on extended online conversations and even “relationships” with their victims.

When the plea for money comes – and it always does – many scammers urge their victims to use a money transfer service to send funds. That’s why Western Union came up with these three basic money transfer “never evers”:

  1. Never use a money transfer service to send money to someone you have not met in person.
  2. Never send money for an emergency situation without verifying that it’s a real emergency; ignore the caller’s plea not to tell others; confirm through other friends and family.
  3. Never send funds received by check until it officially clears in your account, which can take several days, or more.

Use International Elder Abuse Awareness Day as a good excuse to sit down and talk with older folks in your life about all the many ways scammers will try to tug at their heart strings…and their purse strings. Education is the best way to prevent scams.

NOTE: Western Union is a BBB Accredited Business and a National Partner

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About Katherine Hutt

Katherine R. Hutt, Director of Communications and Media Relations with the Council of Better Business Bureaus, is an award-winning communicator who has been helping nonprofit organizations tell their stories for the past 25 years. She was a CBBB consultant on numerous projects for more than a decade before joining the staff in 2011.