Protect yourself: Be alert to financial fraud video

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Video transcript

Sandy

No one wants to become the victim of a theft. But scammers are out there, looking for their next victims. Hello, and welcome to Edward Jones Perspective; I’m Sandy Miller.

Privacy Expert Patrick Chavez joins us to talk about some scams that have been in the news lately, and what you can do to protect yourself. But first, Patrick, how big of a problem is this?

Patrick

It’s big, Sandy. Although anyone can become the victim of fraud, some scams specifically target older adults. And the numbers don’t tell the whole story: The Securities and Exchange Commission has cited a New York state study that found that for every documented case of older adult financial exploitation, another 44 went unreported.

Sandy

Interesting. Let’s talk a little about the scams themselves. Which scam is Edward Jones seeing the most these days?

Patrick

Sandy, believe it or not, a big scam targeting older adults is the Romance Scam. In this scenario, the thief uses social media or dating websites to start a relationship with the intended victim. Once the thief gains a level of trust, he or she will make up a reason for the victim to send money.

Sandy

Patrick, I’m guessing that money is gone for good?

Patrick

For the most part, yes. This is because thieves will ask a victim to use gift cards or prepaid money cards that can’t be traced. The scammer may also ask that funds be wired to a third party.

Sandy

Wow! What else are you watching out for these days?

Patrick

Well, Sandy, some scammers try to steal through what’s known as a Lottery or Sweepstakes Scam. In this scenario, the thief calls or emails the potential victim, claiming he or she has won a valuable prize or a windfall. But of course, there’s always a catch. The thief will ask for money to cover incidental expenses, such as taxes or shipping or processing fees, on the “winnings.” In the end, the prize either never shows up or is worth much less than the money paid to retrieve it.

Sandy

How unfortunate. I’m sure these scams can be heartbreaking to those who become victims. What sorts of red flags can help identify a scam?

Patrick

With the Romance Scam, be alert if someone asks you for money soon after you’ve met him or her – especially if you’ve only met online. With Lottery and Sweepstakes Scams, remember that you should never need to send money to receive legitimate winnings.

Sandy

Good to know. What else should we keep in mind?

Patrick

It’s always a good idea to investigate before you send money. Scammers typically count on the fact that you’ll be too embarrassed to reach out for advice, but it never hurts have someone else evaluate the situation. Talk to a trusted family member or your financial advisor if you’re unsure. 

And always protect your personal information. Don’t give out information about yourself over the phone, via email or over the internet unless you know the recipient is legitimate. Also, be mindful of the information you put on social media, which can be a treasure trove for would-be scammers.

Finally, be wary if an offer comes with a sense of urgency. This is probably the biggest red flag. Thieves want you to act, without giving you time to think. If you’re feeling pressured, stop and consider the situation. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Sandy

Good advice – thanks, Patrick. For more information, contact your local Edward Jones financial advisor.

And remember, you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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