Elder Financial Exploitation – Pandemic Scams
No pandemic would be complete without the rollout of a new scam targeting the most vulnerable members of our families and population – the elderly. Some states have reported in recent weeks that the elderly have been on the receiving end of telephone calls informing them that their dose of a coronavirus vaccine is ready and will be mailed to them once payment has been received. Although law enforcement has urged call recipients to hang up, an elderly adult fearful of illness, unaware of the scam, living on their own, or with no information to support pushing back on the promise of a vaccine is likely to stay on that call and provide payment information – that’s where you’ll come in.
Your institution may be the turning point in an exploitation case since elderly adults may try to hide the issue from well-intentioned family members due to embarrassment, social isolation, or depression. Your frontline’s knowledge of elderly customers’ typical behavior and patterns coupled with your BSA Department’s transaction monitoring procedures, quick response through SAR filing (remember the victim is NOT the subject in Part I), and adult protective services contact can thwart scam attempts that could result in financial loss to the customer and the Bank, increased medical, legal, and housing expenses, or the early death of the customer.
In addition to the newest scam and the usual scams (romance, tech support, and lottery or prize-winning), fraudsters might also call the elderly to convince them they missed jury duty or a tax payment and must pay a fine using a gift card. Retailers, including Walmart and CVS, have posted signage at checkout stations to inform purchasers that the government does not accept payment via gift cards. Retailers and financial institutions are not alone in their effort – the Department of Justice has recently made great strides in assisting the elderly (and financial institutions) with the issuance of state-specific fact sheets, rural and tribal resource guides, and the addition of an Elder Justice Coordinator position in every FBI district. Training resources available on the site would be a great complement to your annual BSA training programs for staff and the Board, and you might also consider providing a link to the DOJ page on your institution website’s fraud page or senior-friendly informational webpage with easy-to-read font and audio aides. If you’ve posted information about the current pandemic, you may even consider adding information about the vaccine scam to make sure elderly customers have the most up-to-date information.
Visit https://www.justice.gov/elderjustice to maximize your financial institution’s relationship with and education of elderly customers. Be the turning point they need.
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