San Fernando Valley Elder Law Attorneys

San Fernando Valley Elder Law Attorneys: How to Stay One Step Ahead of Social Security Scammers

Scammers want your information. They have all kinds of creative ways for getting your account numbers, address, and other personal information. Once they have it, they steal your identity. As San Fernando Valley elder law attorneys, we’ve seen it all too often.

One common scam involves calling unsuspecting seniors and asking them to verify their Social Security number. Here’s the script:

  • A call comes in from someone posing as a Social Security Administration (SSA) employee.
  • The scammer tells the victim that they are due a cost-of-living adjustment increase in their Social Security benefit.
  • The scammer tries to get the victim to “verify” their Social Security number, their name, their birth date, their parent’s names, and other personal information.
  • If the scammer is successful, they use the information to make changes to the victim’s direct deposit, address, and telephone information within the Social Security Administration system.

The Social Security Administration rarely calls and will never send an email to verify anything. They will, in most cases, send you a letter. If you are due cost-of-living or any other increase, you will get them automatically.

To protect yourself, the number one recommendation is to not accept phone calls from phone numbers that you don’t recognize. Here are a few other safeguards recommended by the AARP:

1) Never provide information such as your Social Security number or bank account numbers to unknown people over the phone or internet unless you are certain who is receiving it.

2) If you have questions about any SSA communication – a call, letter, email, or text – contact your local Social Security office or 1-800-772-1213.

3) Report suspicious calls to the Office of the Inspector General at 1-800-269-0271 or online.

4) Want to report a scam? Either contact your state attorney general or the AARP directly.

This latest scam is insidious. The thieves making these phone calls are very convincing. Please be sure to stay alert and warn your elderly friends and family members. If you still need guidance, feel free to contact our San Fernando elder law attorneys at 818-334-2805.

Calabasas estate planning attorneys

Calabasas Estate Planning Attorneys on How to Help Your Older Loved Ones Avoid Fraud and Victimization- Part 1

Elder fraud and financial exploitation have become an epidemic. As Calabasas estate planning attorneys, we are seeing more than ever before, con artists and family members alike taking advantage of their elderly relatives, friends, or neighbors.

The best defense against elder fraud is having caring friends or family with the senior’s best interests at heart. But those friends and family can only prevent elder fraud if they know how to spot it.

What is Elder Fraud?

Broadly defined, elder fraud is when someone improperly (or illegally) uses or steals a vulnerable senior’s assets. Every state has a different definition of “elder fraud” or “financial exploitation” of an elderly person, so look to your state laws to find an exact definition for where you live.

A recent survey identified the three most common scenarios of financial exploitation:

1.    Theft or diversion of funds or property by family members.

2.    Diversion of funds or property by caregivers.

3.    Financial scams perpetrated by strangers.

In the two most common scenarios of financial exploitation, the fraud is committed by someone who knows the elderly person. Most people think of fraud as emails from Nigerian princes or telephone scams. In reality, however, financial exploitation is commonly perpetrated by family and friends.

Another common misconception is that adults are only susceptible to elder fraud if they have a condition that can affect memory and reasoning skills. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 15-20% of elders 65 and older have some type of mild cognitive impairment. But it is important to recognize that any senior can fall victim to elder fraud.

How Can I Prevent Financial Exploitation?

There are a number of things you can do to help prevent your loved one from being taken advantage of. Start by educating them on the tell-tale signs of elder fraud. Talk to them about their finances and the potential dangers they could face.

In part two of this series, our Calabasas estate planning attorneys will dive into the most common ways that seniors are targeted and how to help your loved ones from falling victim to such scams or acts of manipulation. Most importantly, if you are concerned that a loved one is being targeted by a financial predator or a loved one with bad intentions, you should seek help as soon as possible. That may mean calling the police, your loved one’s attorney, and in some cases, even the FBI.

Our Calabasas estate planning attorneys are here to guide you through any of the issues that you may be facing. To schedule an appointment, simply call our law firm at (818) 334-2805.