Risk alert: Scams targeting older Americans rising at ‘alarming’ rate

Elderly victims impacted by fraud is rising at an alarming rate, according to the latest risk alert from CUNA Mutual Group.

More than 92,000 victims over age 60 reported losses of $1.7 billion in 2021, a 74% increase in losses over 2020, according to the risk alert. Many of these member-targeted scams involve fraudulent wire transfers reaching hundreds of thousands of dollars, specifically targeting elderly members.

May is Older Americans Month, and a good time to share reminders about scams and mitigation tips to help credit union employees and members better detect and shut down attempts of financial exploitation of the elderly.

Risk-mitigation tips for credit unions:

Research your state’s elder abuse laws and the Senior Safe Act to determine the credit union’s responsibilities in helping to protect elderly members from scams.

  • Develop a written, board-approved policy addressing elderly financial exploitation.
  • Educate employees and members about these scams and common red flags of financial exploitation.
  • Share scams happening in your area and warning signs to help detect and report this fraud.
  • If a member doesn’t have a history of wiring funds, consider this a red flag, and always ask the member the purpose of the wire transfer. If it appears that the member is being scammed, staff should counsel the member on the scam so that the member withdraws the request.
  • Consider refusing the wire request if you suspect the member is being scammed but the member still wants to proceed with the wire.

Risk-mitigation tips for members:

  • Never give control of your computer to anyone who contacts you, and if you suspect something is wrong with your computer or believe the scammer obtained access to it, bring it to a reputable company for a malware check.
  • Don’t trust phone numbers provided in an email, voicemail or popup ad. If you want to call the company, use the customer service number on their official website.
  • If you are asked to wire money from a recent deposit or overpayment, discuss the situation with a banker, trusted friend or family member.

CUNA Mutual Group’s risk alerts, in addition to additional risk-prevention resources, may be accessed in their Protection Resource Center. Log-in is required.

Leave a Reply