Seniors are vulnerable to financial abuse for several reasons: They have money in retirement savings, they may be lonely or isolated, and in some cases, there's cognitive decline.
To protect against fraud, use caller ID and don't answer calls with numbers you don't recognize. That will thwart many robocallers with phony offers. If you get unsolicited calls or mail requesting money up front - stop communicating immediately.
Before you take action or do business involving your money - go online and do a search using the word "SCAMS" after your search subject. For example, sweepstakes scams, IRS scams, timeshare scams, inevstment scams, contractor scams, work at home scams, duct cleaning scams.
You can also opt out of commercial mail solicitations for five years through the website dmachoice.org.
And always check out contractors through the Better Business Bureau and local licensing agencies, including the state Department of Labor and Industries. Families should make sure that seniors get out in the community so they're aren't isolated. Isolation is a major reason people are victimized.
If you or someone you know has been defrauded, contact the federal Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. You can report the scam and get resources for seniors and family members.
Another resource is the Senate Special Committee on Aging through its toll-free fraud hotline: (855) 303-9470.