They’re not particular. Generational lines don’t really matter to them. Baby boomers, Gen Xers, millennials. A target is a target. Just give them a name, a number and an address and they’ll go to work.
These are the criminals who can rob you with a smile, a handshake and a pat on the back as they’re walking out the door.
Con artists, scammers and fraudsters are out there in rising numbers, using more sophisticated means than ever, and they’re not going away. Many victims find the most lethal culprits are people they know, family members, friends or caregivers.
Locked doors, alarm systems and bank vaults can’t protect against this type of thief. Awareness, caution and education are the best protections.
Today’s society is pulsing with technology and information overload, making it almost impossible to keep up with changes as we go about our daily lives, so it’s easy to be ambushed with a pitch, a story or an opportunity that sounds plausible. Some scammers will go to great lengths to boost their credibility, creating websites and slick promotional materials.
The scams are countless, and many are age-old. It might be some type of investment that requires you to lock up your money, cutting your access to it, or maybe it’s not an investment at all. Perhaps it’s a vacation, a new product or a claim that you’ve won something. Beware of callers who say they’re with the IRS, strangers asking for your address or people who want your Social Security number.
Pay attention to checking accounts, savings accounts and credit card accounts. Keep up with where money goes. When scammers obtain access, they typically take small amounts of money at a time to help evade detection.
While vigilance is a good first line of defense, it may be helpful for some to have a trusted friend or a family member as a backup. And now, through the Senior Safe Act of 2018, financial advisers can help.
Under the law, financial advisers and employees with financial institutions can be trained on how to identify exploitative activity against seniors, and the law opens avenues for reporting without the risk of liability.
This important development in the fight against fraud allows financial advisers to serve as objective third parties that are in a unique position to see red flags.
For example, there may be red flags when a widow starts bringing someone new to meetings with her banker or financial adviser and giving access to her financial accounts. Or, there may be sudden changes to beneficiaries. Financial advisers can also monitor transactions and spot requests to send money to third parties, or they can watch for unusual withdrawals.
Unusual activity does not always mean exploitation, however. That’s why financial advisers might encourage clients to identify a trusted friend or other contact. Communication is a key to identifying fraud.
These days, baby boomers are among the most vulnerable, and, with more money than any other generation in history, they are a lucrative target.
So, there can be a lot at stake, making it more important than ever to take measures that protect wealth from dangerous exploitation, and it’s good to have people who can help.
And, always remember, if it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t.
Max Rhodes is an attorney and the chief compliance officer at Full Sail Capital.