Is Someone “Phishing” for You?

Most of us have been on the receiving end of an April Fools Day prank at some point in our lives. But did you know that in France, April 1 is known as Poisson d’Avril, or “April Fish”? Is some fraudster "phishing" for your personal information or pocketbook?

If you are a mature investor, scam artists may be looking particularly for you. According to the FBI, older investors tend to have concentrated wealth and are less likely to report fraud after it occurs. In addition, seniors may feel indebted to someone who has provided unsolicited advice or other assistance.

And senior women who live alone are especially vulnerable to scams: Women are nearly twice as likely to be victims of elder financial abuse as men.1

Common Types of Fraud That May Affect You or Your Loved Ones
Caregiver FraudA dishonest caregiver could steal valuables or cash. Other schemes involve intercepting the victim's mail to steal personal information for identity theft.
Grandparent ScamsA caller may claim to be a grandchild (or another relative or a friend) who needs money immediately.
Identity Theft and PhishingAs thieves become more sophisticated in their online approaches, less “tech-savvy” seniors may find it difficult to tell whether the business requesting their personal information is legitimate. Threats of closing an account or canceling a credit card may add to the victim’s insecurity and make him or her want to respond more quickly.
SeminarsMature individuals are often the target of “free lunch” seminars. However, these lunches are rarely free: According to the AARP, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and other regulators recently found that half of the free lunch seminars featured exaggerated or misleading advertising claims, and 13% appeared to be fraudulent and were referred for possible disciplinary action.
TelemarketingSeniors are more likely to be home when a telemarketer calls. The FBI estimates that scam artists have taken more than $500 million per year from unsuspecting older adults.

 

How Can I Help Protect Myself from Fraud?
Investigate before Investing
  • Take the time to conduct research.
  • Talk to other family or friends before making an important decision regarding finances.
Know the Fears Con Artists Prey Upon Con artists know that older adults often worry about having enough income in retirement. They may pitch a scheme as a way to increase financial security, but only if you act immediately. 
Be Wary of Unsolicited Offers 
  • Beware of calls or letters regarding lottery or sweepstakes winnings, but especially if it is not a contest you entered yourself.
  • If you send money abroad and something goes wrong, the funds are more difficult to trace and nearly impossible to recover  
Protect Your Personal Information 
  • Shred financial documents and paperwork with personal information before you discard them. Many companies, including Edward Jones, offer electronic delivery, which can help reduce a paper trail.
  • Protect your Social Security number. Do not carry your Social Security card in your wallet or write it on a check. Give this number out only if absolutely necessary, or ask to use another identifier.
  • Do not give out personal information over the phone, through the mail or over the Internet unless you know the recipient is legitimate.
  • Thieves can use links in unsolicited emails. Instead, type in a web address you know. Firewalls, anti-spyware and anti-virus software can help protect a home computer, especially if they are kept up to date.
  • Check your credit report. The law requires the major nationwide consumer reporting companies to give each American a free copy of his or her credit report on request once per year. For more information, visit www.annualcreditreport.com

If Fraud Occurs
Fighting financial fraud starts with education as well as communication between you, your family members and your financial professionals. At Edward Jones, we want to empower our clients and their families to help protect themselves from financial fraud.

Visit our Fraud Awareness and Prevention site for more information or contact your Edward Jones financial advisor.

1 The MetLife Study of Elder Financial Abuse, Mature Market Institute, 2011

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