In recognition of Older Americans Month in May, Bank of New Hampshire is providing tips and advice to prevent financial exploitation of older adults.
"Seniors are increasingly becoming targets for financial abuse as it's all about the money," said Karen Cornell, vice president - BSA compliance officer for Bank of New Hampshire. "People over 50 years old control over 70 percent of the nation's wealth, and fraudsters are using new tactics to take advantage of the growing number of older Americans."
Bank of New Hampshire employees are frequently trained to identify red flags commonly associated with financial abuse; this includes unusual withdrawals, changes in spending behavior or someone new attempting access to an account.
However, elder financial abuse is best combated when bankers and customers work together. To help older Americans protect themselves, Bank of New Hampshire is offering these tips:
· Keep personal information private. Never share your social security number or date of birth as these numbers do not change. Never share account information or personal details over the phone or internet, unless you initiated the contact with a trusted source.
· Never let someone have remote access to your computer. Companies will not call to notify you of a computer problem. Bring it to a local reputable business if you need help.
· Shred! Shred! Shred! Shred receipts, bank statements and unused credit card offers before throwing them away so fraudsters can't piece together your personal information. Do not throw these offers in a public recycle bin at the post office.
· Reduce how many cards you keep in your wallet or purse. Do not keep PINs and passwords in the same place. Accidents happen, you don't want a stranger to get this info if you lose your wallet or purse.
· Understand how your relationships will contact you. Call them directly using a familiar number to confirm before you respond to providing information.
· IRS will never call to demand payment. They will never ask for your card numbers over the phone or require immediate payment and they will never threaten to have you arrested.
· Do not send money to someone you have not met face to face. Fraudsters are using the internet and phone to entice you or gain your trust.
· Pay attention to local media alerts. Many communities will have local media notify the public when there is a risk to the community. Call your local Police Department with any concerns.
· Don't let a so-called "adviser" pressure you. Never let a new or untrusted "adviser" pressure you into sharing personal or financial details. He or she could be a fraudster.
· Check your credit report. Customers should check their credit report at least one a year to ensure no new credit cards or accounts have been opened by criminals in your name. To receive a free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies, visit the Federal Trade Commission's website at www.annualcreditreport.com
or call 1-877-322-8228.
· Never rush into a financial decision. Ask for details in writing and get a second opinion from a trusted financial advisor or attorney before signing any document you don't understand.