The phone rings, and it’s your grandchild’s phone number. You answer, excited for a call with your loved one, but someone else answers. The caller explains frantically and tearfully that your grandchild has been badly injured and needs money immediately to pay for an ambulance and other fees.
Odds are, this is not a legitimate call from your loved one. This is an example of the latest imposter scam, or grandkid scam, aimed at seniors. As quickly as we can identify and raise awareness of common scams, fraudsters change tactics and demonstrate increasing sophistication – spoofing phone numbers, hacking into email and social media accounts, and sending mail and electronic notices that appear to be legitimate messages asking for personal information.
Fraud Cases are Rising
According to the Federal Trade Commission, 4.7 million fraud reports were filed in 2020, with $3.3 billion in total fraud losses. This compares to 3.2 million fraud reports and $1.8 billion of total losses in 2019. While younger people age 20-29 are more likely to report losing money to fraud, people aged 70+ experience higher median losses. Seniors have had a lifetime to accumulate assets and home equity, making them an attractive target for scammers.
4 Imposter Scams to Recognize
Technology has made it easier for us to stay safe and connected while social distancing, but it has also made it easier for scammers to reach potential victims. The top fraud of 2020 was imposter scams, which often begin with a phone call, text message, or email from someone posing as:
- A court official or the police say you need to pay a fine, taxes, or other debt, or you will be immediately arrested and further penalized.
- Safety Tip: Call the courthouse or police station directly. Do not use a phone number that has been provided to you.
- Social Security or the IRS need to verify personal information to continue your benefit payments, send you a refund, or request tax payments.
- Safety Tip: Government agencies will never call to ask for money or information over the phone.
- A family member (or someone on their behalf) has been arrested or in an accident and needs money right away.
- Safety Tip: Don’t trust caller ID. Check with the real person before taking any action.
- A friend has information on how to get financial relief or other income opportunities.
- Safety Tip: Contact your friend to confirm if they sent you the message. If not, their account may have been hacked.
We are Here to Help
Wire transfers, gift cards, and cryptocurrency payments are favored by scammers because they are difficult to trace and nearly impossible to reverse once transferred. Remain vigilant and suspicious if someone contacts you and requests these types of payments. When in doubt, please contact us before you consider sending funds or providing personal information to third parties.
Important disclosure information
Please remember that different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, including the loss of money invested. Past performance may not be indicative of future results. Therefore, it should not be assumed that future performance of any specific investment or investment strategy, including the investments or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by RegentAtlantic Capital, LLC (“RegentAtlantic”) will be profitable.
Please remember to contact RegentAtlantic if there are any changes in your personal or financial situation or investment objectives for the purpose of reviewing our previous recommendations and services, or if you wish to impose, add, or modify any reasonable restrictions to our investment management services. A copy of our current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees is available for your review upon request.
This article is not a substitute for personalized advice from RegentAtlantic. This article is current only as of the date on which it was sent. The statements and opinions expressed are, however, subject to change without notice based on market and other conditions and may differ from opinions expressed in other businesses and activities of RegentAtlantic. Descriptions of RegentAtlantic’s process and strategies are based on general practice and we may make exceptions in specific cases.
RegentAtlantic does not provide legal or tax advice. Please consult with a legal and or tax professional of your choosing prior to implementing any of the strategies discussed in this article.