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A Nasty Halloween Trick-Telephone Scam Targeting Seniors Who Are On Social Security

Our friends at Justice in Aging (justiceinaging.org) have alerted the subscribers to their blog about a telephone scam.

Here is their information (they encourage everyone to share this information):

“There’s a new phone scam targeting Social Security beneficiaries that advocates for older adults should be aware of. The Federal Trade Commission is warning that scammers are engaging in a caller ID trick called “spoofing” to make it appear that they are calling from the Social Security Administration (SSA).

These phony callers claim to work for SSA and ask for personal information—such as the individual’s Social Security Number—supposedly in order to process a benefit increase. These scam artists have also tried to get this information by claiming that the person’s benefits will be cut off if the personal information isn’t provided. Read the FTC’s warning to learn more, including where to report such calls, and what people should do if they get one of these calls.”

If someone you know, or a loved one, receives Social Security, please alert them to this scam.

My website (www.attorneybarbaradalvano.weebly.com) has articles (under Archives) about: elder fraud industry; elder fraud protection; identity theft.

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World Elder Abuse Awareness Day – June 15

Our friends at The National Center on Law and Elder Rights (NCLER) * are calling attention to June 15 as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD).

According to the NCLER website:    “Since 2006, the United Nations has sponsored WEAAD, noting that it “represents the one day in the year when the whole world voices its opposition to the abuse and suffering inflicted to some of our older generations.”

Also currently available on the NCLER website for elder advocates: A Free Webinar on June 20: “Assisting Older Homeowners After a Natural Disaster” – (Registration required)

Some of the recent calls to action of the NCLER include:

> Protecting the elderly from “robo calls” – older adults are often targets of scams and fraudulent offers via telephone

> Preventing older adults from becoming victims of payday loans, which often place our most vulnerable population in a “dangerous cycle of debt.”

> New Mortgage Servicing Rules Protect Surviving Spouses and Heirs

Read more about the work of the NCLER on their website.

* The National Center on Law and Elder Rights (NCLER) is a national resource center for the legal services and aging and disability networks, focused on the legal rights of older adults.

Working To Preserve Your Wealth and Protect Your Future…in a Constantly Changing World

Please read my full Disclaimer and How I Can Help You

Visit my website:  www.attorneybarbaradalvano.weebly.com for over 275 articles and printable infographics

From College Tuition to Wind Farms

I have written many previous articles about fraud committed against the elderly.  Some of the archived articles appear in my website (see below) under:  Elder fraud industry, Elder fraud protection, Consumer fraud protection.

The reason that a Squared Away * article caught my eye was because of the matter of “trust.”  The trust that a senior individual (or anyone for that matter) has in their financial (and legal) adviser.

The Squared Away article titled:  Cautionary Tale of Defrauding the Elderly (February 8, 2018)  is a sad saga of broken trust between senior individuals and their financial advisers.

From fraudulent college tuition; to diverted funds; to failed wind farms; to inflated fees, it is a truly disturbing pattern of fraud committed against a vulnerable part of our society.

As the article states:  “Retired people with nest eggs can be an enticing target for scam artists…”

And more worrisome is that financial fraud against the elderly is on the rise.

The warnings should be heeded, not only by retired people and those who take care of the interests of the elderly, but also by all professionals holding fiduciary responsibility.

Working To Preserve Your Wealth and Protect Your Future…in a Constantly Changing World

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* Squared Away is the blog of the Center for Retirement Research of Boston College http://www.squaredawayblog.bc.edu

Tax Season Anxiety

“Tis the season to be anxious…”

Tax season is upon us.  Maybe you are one of the lucky few who filed early and already received their refund.  For the rest of Americans, tax time can be stressful and produce anxiety.  And scammers prey upon our anxieties.

An excellent article came across my desk from Fidelity Viewpoints about protecting personal identity and specific frauds surrounding tax filing.  The link is below:

https://www.fidelity.com/viewpoints/personal-finance/preventing-identity-theft?ccsource=email_weekly

The Fidelity Viewpoints article gives a synopsis of some of the frauds and tricks used by scammers during tax season.  The elderly are particularly vulnerable.

If you believe that you or a loved one has been a victim of theft of identity, file a Form 14019 Identity Theft Affidavit with the IRS.  The form is available on the IRS website.

Working To Preserve Your Wealth and Protect Your Future…in a Constantly Changing World

 Please read my full Disclaimer and How I Can Help You

Visit my website:  www.attorneybarbaradalvano.weebly.com for over 250 articles and printable infographics

Free Webinar-Protecting Elders from Financial Exploitation

I have written several articles about fraud against the elderly and preventive measures.  (available on my website:  http://www.attorneybarbaradalvano.weebly.com)

It appears that during the holiday season, people intent on fraud work overtime in their attempts to coax funds out of unsuspecting victims, and the older citizen has an increased risk.

According to some statistics, elder fraud costs billions of dollars, and the grief such fraud causes is immeasurable.  Our friends at the The National Center for Elder Rights (NCLER) are offering a free webinar about the types of financial exploitation that occur and victim characteristics, among other topics.

Free webinar – Legal Basics: Elder Financial Exploitation

When: Tuesday, January 9th, 2018 at 11:00 a.m. PT/2:00 p.m. ET.

From the NCLER site:  NCLER.acl.gov           the webinar will include –

“Types of elder financial exploitation and its extent & cost;

Victim characteristics;

Detection tools;

Action steps & ethical issues; and

Remedies and system change opportunities”

The webinar is free and you can register on the NCLER website for more information.  If you are an advocate for an elderly individual, this webinar is important.  Two presenters from the ABA Commission of Law and Aging will be on the webinar.

Working To Preserve Your Wealth and Protect Your Future…in a Constantly Changing World

Please read my full Disclaimer and How I Can Help You

Visit my website:  www.attorneybarbaradalvano.weebly.com for over 200 articles and printable infographics

I.R.S. Form 14039 and Identity Theft

As we approach the mind- numbing period of tax filing, a recent article caught my attention.

Many of my followers know that my legal career began with the Internal Revenue Service. In my current work as an estate planning attorney,  I also interact with attorneys specializing in the tax field; as well as with my clients’ financial planners and accountants.

The article about identity theft and fraud came from the online magazine Fidelity Viewpoints*.  There is a free magazine subscription available through the Fidelity website and the online magazine deals with finances, investing and personal finance.

The Viewpoints article entitled “Don’t fall prey to financial scams” (February 22, 2017) does an excellent job of describing some of the scams like “fake charities” and “ransomware” and also gives advice about how to avoid scams.

Within the article was a golden nugget about the IRS Form 14039, which assists tax payers who have been victims of tax-related identity theft; theft of their social security and fraud involving the use of their tax filing information.

The actual name of I.R.S. Form 14039 is “Identity Theft Affidavit”, and you can review the form at www.irs.gov.  There are two other helpful I.R.S. publications:  I.R.s. pub 4535 Identity Theft Prevention and Victim Assistance and Tax Preparer Guide to Identity Theft.

Note: Completion of I.R.S. Form 14039 does not mean that you avoid filing your tax returns as normal.  Even if you suspect that your tax filing has been impacted by identity theft – file your tax return as normal and follow up with the IRS.

* www.fidelity.com for more information about their online magazine – Viewpoints

Working to Preserve Your Wealth and Protect Your Future…in a Constantly Changing World

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Spoofing Telemarketers

I have previously written blogs about fraud and the elderly. (on my website Archive – Elder Fraud Protection)

Recently a post dropped into my box about a new company that actually is trying to combat those pesky telemarketing calls. Seniors are particularly vulnerable to telemarketing tactics, so I really took notice of how The Jolly Roger Telephone Company is managing to make telemarketers “walk the plank.”

The site for  The Jolly Roger Telephone Company is www.jollyrogertelco.com.  The company is the brain child of Roger Anderson, a telephone systems expert.  Mr. Anderson’s  ‘robots’ counter the incoming calls of telemarketers.  With robots called Jolly Roger, Salty Sally, and Whiskey Jack, his strategy is to intercept the calls and then have the Jolly Roger bots ‘talk’ to the telemarketers…so you don’t have to.

The sophistication of telemarketers is increasing with the use of predictive dialers and ‘spoof’ local area codes. Mr. Anderson is using artificial intelligence to combat some of the worst abuses.

The puzzling and odd responses of his robots are amusing (the site offers a demo of some calls), but the reality of aggressive telemarketing and telephone fraud scams against seniors is not amusing.

There are seniors who have lost their savings, their credit card information and even their identity to online scams and fraud. And unscrupulous telemarketing calls can cause unsuspecting seniors to fall prey to a host of financial abuses.

According to an * article by Nick Bilton , “ Roger Anderson may not seem like a superhero. But to many, he has become one… For Mr. Anderson, this service isn’t just about wasting the time of people who want to waste our time. He sees his service as a way to help ordinary people, especially older Americans, from being defrauded.”

* A Robot That Has Fun at Telemarketers’ Expense, Feb. 24, 2016  by Nick Bilton. The New York Times, Fashion and Style,  Disruptions. – A weekly column by Nick Bilton exploring how technology is shaping our lives.

Why might some elderly be more prone to scams and fraud?   One reason could lie deep with the human brain – an area called the anterior insula.

Why Older Adults are So Susceptible to Financial Fraud by Olivia DaDalt (Next Avenue Contributor).

According to the article, research showed that older participants of a study showed less activation of the anterior insula, a part of the brain known to support ineroceptive awareness, or what is commonly called a “gut feeling”. Thus, an older adult may not get a ‘gut feeling’ that warns them of an untrustworthy person, thus making them more vulnerable to the risk of scams.

Also, the MIT AgeLab Website has more tips and resources to help prevent seniors from falling victim to financial abuse. If you live near Cambridge you can even participate in studies by the MIT Age Lab. (www.agelab.mit.edu)

Working to Preserve Your Wealth and Protect Your Future…in a Constantly Changing World

Please Read my full Disclaimer and How I Can Help You

Visit my website: www.attorneybarbaradalvano.weebly.com for more articles and interesting infographics

Enjoying A Safe Holiday Season

The following is a compilation of a few previous posts about protecting older individuals (and yourself!) from fraud and financial exploitation.

FRAUD AND THE HOLIDAYS. Over the holidays it requires even more diligence to avoid scams and frauds. The people who prey on older Americans are indeed very busy during the holiday season.

Remind loved ones to never give private information over the telephone. When in doubt about the identity of a caller…Stop talking and just hang up.

PROBATE IS PUBLIC. Those who have filed their own probate documents often receive a preponderance of telephone calls.  Remember, that the probate process and many details are public information.  There are individuals who make a career of researching probate documents, which often contain contact information of a bereaved relative.  Be aware that probate is a very public process and use extra care, during and after the probate process, particularly if you have handled probate yourself and not through a lawyer’s office.

THE CFPB. In a previous post titled Another Person’s Money (see my website archive) I briefly touched upon the issue of handling the finances of someone else and mentioned the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (www.cfpb.gov)  According to their website, the CFPB Office for Older Americans “is the only federal office dedicated to the financial health of Americans age 62 and over.”

Their website offers a 40 page manual titled: Protecting residents form financial exploitation, A manual for assisted living and nursing facilities. It gives a detailed analysis of financial exploitation in care facilities along with some disturbing examples and is also a helpful guide for the facilities.

Although written specifically for assisted living and nursing home workers/staff/administrators, the manual is an excellent source for those who manage the finances of an elderly individual.

UNWANTED CALLS. We have all had them.  The telephone call early in the morning or in the middle of the dinner hour, offering anything from aluminum siding”surveys”; to “credit repair” or bank account “insurance”.  Despite the No Call Registry, caller ID and more robust mechanisms for defeating them, it appears that telephone solicitors manage to find their way into our homes.  One difference is that now their offers are more usually coached in terms of a “survey”.  Seniors may tend to be more polite about these intrusions.  By coaching them to realize that it is OK to “Just hang up”   – they can avoid serious problems. This is particularly true of solicitors who are requesting money in the name of a charity.

VULNERABILITY. There are frequent articles that suggest that the older population is more vulnerable to fraud, via telephone or online.  The reasons offered: that there is diminished “thinking”; or sheer loneliness (elderly are more likely to continue a conversation, just to hear a friendly voice).  Perhaps they are not as wary of the technology of the internet as they should be?  Then there is the idea that the elderly become a bit naïve or are not as aware of the possibilities of what a scammer can accomplish with just a bit of additional information (such as date of birth or the name of our bank). Protect your loved one (and yourself) by never offering personal information over the telephone and limit your internet usage to secure sites.

Enjoy a safe and secure holiday season.

Working to Preserve Your Wealth and Protect Your Future…in a Constantly Changing World

Please read my full Disclaimer and How I Can Help You

Visit my website: www.attorneybarbaradalvano.weebly.com for more articles and interesting infographics.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

From the WISER website (Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement)  – World Elder Abuse Awareness Day: June 15, 2016 was announced.

According to their website: “Every year an estimated 5 million, or 1 in 10, older Americans are victims of elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation. Financial exploitation is a fast-growing form of abuse of seniors”.

For more information go to www.wiserwomen.org  The site has an excellent page of Financial Elder Abuse Resources and eight briefs dealing with elder financial abuse prevention/exploitation.  Each brief covers a different topic.

In previous articles I have written about financial exploitation of the elderly and other issues facing our elder population.

I invite you to go to my website (www.attorneybarbaradalvano.weebly.com) to read a few of these previous articles:

  • Fraud and Aging
  • Another Person’s Money
  • The Scoop on Home Health Agencies
  • Takeaways from the White House Conference on Aging
  • Denver-A Dementia Friendly City
  • Living Past 100

 

Working to Preserve Your Wealth and Protect Your Future…in a Constantly Changing World

Please read my Full Disclaimer and “How I Can Help You”

Visit my website: www.attorneybarbaradalvano.weebly.com

The Invisible Epidemic

I have written often about the Baby Boomer generation and the particular challenges facing not only that generation but also the adult children who are being called upon to assist their aging parents. This help can come in many forms; telephone calls, visits and frequently the offer of assistance with handling financial affairs.

One of the challenges facing the coming Baby Boomer generation is “Fraud against the elderly”  It has been named as the “invisible epidemic”  (Senate Committee on Aging)  (www.aging.senate.gov/press-room/press-releases )

One report is: “Senate Aging Committee to Examine Financial Exploitation of Seniors” (Grandson of the late NY Philanthropist and Socialite, Brooke Astor Scheduled to Testify at Wednesday’s Hearing Tuesday, February 3, 2015)   From the Senate website: “WASHINGTON, DC- Financial exploitation of older Americans is a growing epidemic that cost seniors an estimated $2.9 billion in 2010, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO).  In as many of 90 percent of these financial abuse cases, the senior is victimized by someone he or she knows well.  Financial exploitation of vulnerable seniors is the topic of an upcoming hearing of the Senate Special Committee on Aging.”

Other reports/topics noted on the government website include a “fraud hotline”, IRS Phone scams, Retirement Savings; “the $7.7 Trillion Retirement Gap; and “Financial Exploitation of Seniors”.

(There is a Fraud Hotline if fraud against an older person is suspected: 1-855-303-9470 is the number currently listed on the government website).

It is critical for adult children to talk with their parents; to seek legal advice and to put mechanisms in place, such as Power Of Attorney (POA), and other legal paperwork so that an adult child can help in times of necessity.  One cannot assume that, because you are a son or daughter, you will be able to “take over the reins” in times of crisis, unless the legal mechanisms have been put in place beforehand.

Now let’s talk about PREVENTION!  With this in mind, our friends at the Squared Away blog of Boston College have passed on some valuable information about how financial institutions can help make the task of helping with a loved one’s finances a bit easier, while at the same time giving a parent dignity and giving you peace of mind.

One of my previous blogs dealt with the fact that many unsolicited offers come to the elderly via telephone and mail.  Fraudsters gain valuable information via unsolicited telephone calls.  An adult child can take preventive action to protect bank accounts and savings from fraud.

According to the Squared Away blog, an adult child could open a debit account separate from all other accounts.  The account is funded to a certain level, e.g. $500 per month.  Thus, the parent has the dignity of having a debit card to use, but their main accounts are protected.  Suspicious transactions can more easily be monitored. Squared Away mentions a company called True Link.  I wanted to know more, so I went to the True Link’s website and there was a quote by Stinchcombe:  “When a bank tells a caretaker to take away a senior’s checkbook, “that’s a horrible answer to the problem since it so severely reduces their independence,” …True Link’s alternative is a card that can be used only in circumstances that the senior’s caretaker approves.” According to the True Link website, “True Link gets real-time transaction information from its processor i2c, allowing it to immediately decline a transaction that’s over the maximum amount or send a text-message alert to prompt the caretaker to intervene.”  Each family should do their own research to find out as much information about protection against fraud.  The above is only one example.

Every family situation is different and each adult child will seek the appropriate mechanisms to protect loved ones against the harm of fraud.  The main goal is to be proactive, rather than waiting for something bad to occur.

Certain states have even moved to enhance protection strategies for  vulnerable populations to protect them from fraud.  According to Squared Away, “In California bank employees can be liable for failing to report suspicious transactions” and elder financial abuse. “ The state of Utah has had  anti-fraud mechanisms in place since 2011.”

Another strategy is to place daily “alerts” on bank accounts which can be monitored. Ask your financial institution about what is available through them to prevent fraud on financial accounts.

Being proactive (to prevent fraud) and vigilant is much better than being reactive to the problem.

With help, the “invisible epidemic” of fraud against our aging population can be stamped out.

Please see my full disclaimer at the bottom of this page and “How I Can Help You” section.