With older adults increasingly targeted by financial scammers, Governor Bill Lee has proclaimed tomorrow, June 15, 2019, as Elder Abuse Awareness Day in Tennessee to warn seniors and their families and help them avoid falling victim to identity theft, financial abuse and scams. Every year, an estimated 1 in 10 older Americans are victims of elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation, and as few as 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse come to the attention of state and federal authorities. Tragically, the vulnerability of older adults stems in part from admirable qualities: their wealth accumulated through careful planning and saving over their careers, their tendency to be trusting, and their desire to help those who are in need. Here are some investor and identity theft tips for you to remind older members of your family and friends to help them avoid financial exploitation and fraud:
Senior Investor Tips
- If a stranger asks for money, proceed with caution or simply cut off the discussion. Swindlers will take advantage of your good manners.
- Make sure you invest with a licensed investment adviser – ask for and review verification and credentials.
- Beware of salespeople who prey upon your fears. Fear can blind your good judgment. Only invest when you have all the facts and feel comfortable.
- Ask a trusted family member or friend for advice before you make an investment decision. They can help check on the validity of the adviser or broker.
Identity Theft Prevention Tips
- Never buy anything from a stranger who calls or visits unannounced.
- Shred all paperwork containing any identifying information, healthcare information, banking information, or passwords.
- Regularly check the accuracy of bank and credit card statements.
- Monitor your credit report.
- Use direct deposit for benefit checks to prevent checks from being stolen.
- Never give your credit card, banking, Social Security number, Medicare number, or other personal information over the phone, unless you initiated the call.
To help older family members and friends check on the bona fides of an investment adviser, you can utilize FINRA’s website to confirm whether a securities broker is licensed here: https://brokercheck.finra.org/. For insurance agents and producers, check whether they are properly licensed here: https://sbs-tn.naic.org/Lion-Web/jsp/sbsreports/AgentLookup.jsp. Additional information about consumer scams is available here: https://www.tn.gov/commerce/consumer/scams-schemes-swindles.html Finally, if you suspect a family member or friend might be the victim of securities or insurance fraud, you can file a compliant or speak with an investigator by contacting the Tennessee Securities Division – Financial Services Investigations Unit at (615) 741-5900 or file an online complaint here: https://www.tn.gov/commerce/securities/investors/file-a-complaint.html.
Check out our series, Privacy Perils, to learn what steps you can take to guard your personal and company data. For more information about this topic and other cyber security concerns, please contact Bob Brewer, Tony McFarland, Elizabeth Warren or a member of our Privacy & Data Security team.