Latest Consumer Protection Data Spotlight Finds Seniors Sending Thousands in Cash to Scammers Claiming to be their Grandchildren
Older consumers who report losing money to fraud are reporting a disturbing trend: Scammers claiming to be a loved one in trouble are getting people 70 and over to send thousands of dollars in cash.
In the second Consumer Protection Data Spotlight, the Federal Trade Commission examined complaints about family and friend imposter scams. These scammers often call seniors claiming to be a grandchild. The FTC is seeing an increase in the number of people ages 70 and over who say they sent cash in response to this particular scam – one in four said they mailed cash in 2018, compared to one in fourteen the prior year. In about half of these types of complaints, the scammer said they were in jail or some other legal trouble and in need of money to get out of trouble.
All age groups reported losing more money over the last 12 months to family and friend imposter scams – a total of $41 million, compared to $26 million the previous year. The most striking concern is individual losses by older Americans. The median loss for this scam was $2,000, but when seniors ages 70 and over said they put cash in the mail, their median loss was $9,000.
The FTC urges those who might get such a call to not act right away. Instead, the FTC recommends calling the family member or friend using a known number, or checking out the request with someone else in their family or a mutual friend.
The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition, and protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357).
CONTACT FOR CONSUMERS:
Consumer Response Center
If you help manage money or property for a family member or friend who can't do it themselves, you know that being someone's informal financial caregiver (or formally appointed representative payee or conservator or trustee) can be really tough. These jobs are all called "fiduciary" positions, because you have a legal "fiduciary" duty, meaning you must be faithful and loyal to the person you are helping, putting their interests ahead of your own. ("Fiduciary" is from Latin fidelis, meaning faithful.)
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created the Managing Someone Else’s Money guides for four different fiduciary roles.
They also created a brief video that explains the guides featuring the experiences of two lay fiduciaries.
If you have any questions about how to use these materials, please contact Naomi Karp at firstname.lastname@example.org and Erin Scheithe at email@example.com.
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John Gear to Host Radio Celebration: 227th Birthday of the Bill of Rights, Saturday December 15, 1 p.m. on KMUZ (88.5/100.7 FM, or at KMUZ.org)
The internet depends on the First Amendment, part of the first set of amendments to the Constitution that became known as the Bill of Rights.
It is no exaggeration to say that the rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, and their application to the states through the 14th Amendment, are the backbone of American life and what it means to live in the United States.
To help celebrate the Bill of Rights and discuss some important omissions from it, Salem's community radio station KMUZ (at 88.5 and 100.7 FM in Salem area and at KMUZ.org anywhere on the web) will air a special 227th Birthday Celebration on December 15 at 1 p.m. with KMUZ sponsor, John Gear of John Gear Law Office.
And if you have questions about the Bill of Rights or your civil liberties, you can send them to Info@KMUZ.org with BILL OF RIGHTS SHOW in the subject line.
All questions will be considered and some will be addressed during the show. That’s
Saturday, December 15 at 1 p.m.
on community radio station KMUZ (88.5 and 100.7 FM in the Willamette Valley, streaming at KMUZ.org to anywhere in the world).
We are launching a new “Tell YOUR Story” tool that will enable residents, families, ombudsmen, and those who work with them tell their story about nursing home or assisted living care.
John Gear is a Salem attorney.