By: AnnaMarie Mock
Everyone, young and old alike, can be a target for fraud. In 2018, the Federal Trade Commission collected 1.4 million fraud reports. People reported losing a whopping $1.48 billion to fraud in 2018, which is an increase of 38% from 2017. Of people that included their age in reports, those aged 20-29 reported the loss of money in 43% of reports compared to 15% for those aged 70-79. However, the loss amount reported was nearly twice as high for ages 70-79.
In addition, it is estimated that elder financial abuse costs older Americans upwards of $36 billion. According to the National Council On Aging, 1 in 10 Americans aged 60+ have experienced some form of abuse, but only 1 in 14 cases are estimated to be reported to authorities.
Any reports reported to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are stored in the Consumer Sentinel Network (Sentinel), which is a secure online database available to law enforcement. The law enforcement partners can use this information to spot trends and identify targets. The top reports collected in the Sentinel were imposter scams, debt collection, and identify theft. Across all forms of fraud, scammers prefer to use wire transfers, but the use of gift cards and reload cards have skyrocketed. In 2018, gift card payments increased by 95% over one year in the use of fraudulent payments. Below is a list of the top scams and some tips on how to avoid becoming a target.
If you believe you have been a victim of a scam or identify theft, the FTC recommends immediate attention.
1) Notify one of the three nationwide credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, to place an initial fraud alert. This alert is treated like a “red flag” to lenders and creditors to take reasonable steps to confirm your identity when opening a new account or leveraging new debt.
2) Order your credit reports to review for incorrect information. If a fraudster used your personal information to open accounts or apply for debt, these fraudulent accounts will appear, and action could be taken. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires the credit reporting companies, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, to provide individuals with a free copy of your credit report once every twelve months. You can go to www.ftc.gov/credit or call 877-382-4357 for more details and make a request.
3) Create an identity theft report through the FTC at www.identitytheft.gov to obtain detailed guides and instructions that are designed to help identity theft victims.
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to your HIGHLAND team.