Natural catastrophes are bad enough, but we live in an age of chaos and must add another prevalent disaster—financial exploitation, especially of the elderly.
Every year Americans lose billions of dollars to fraudulent scams and investments. The following provides information for avoiding fraudulent schemes, but the list is not exhaustive.
Discuss these matters with your relatives and friends—elderly or not. Let them know that criminals can obtain personal data without ever breaking into our homes. Warn and instruct them about:
Victims of identity fraud often are unaware of what's happening until their credit and reputation are damaged, or assets are stolen.
So check your credit report regularly. You can order your free annual credit report online at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/freereports/index.shtml, or call 1-877-322-8228.
If your suspect that you've been an identity theft or fraud victim, report it immediately to your local office of the FBI or the U.S. Secret Service, and online at the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection at http://www.ftc.gov*.
The United States Department of Justice also has information to help you identify common scams and avoid becoming a fraud victim at http://www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/*.