Consumer Fraud


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  • As reported in The Wyoming Sage, August 2006 Walter Naylor and Sandee Dowlin scammed Cheyenne residents, as well as folks in Nebraska and Colorado. Some victims were farmers in distress, some people with a mistrust of the government. Some lived in a Fort Collins, Colo., nursing home. As part of a “self-liquidating loan” program, the Cheyenne couple charged investors between $10,000 and $15,000, an “application fee” that was to return $1 million to each investor within a few months. Naylor told tales of how he knew Marcos in the Philippines, and how Ferdinand gave him the keys to the kingdom. Naylor told investors he owned gold certificates worth billions from a foundation in the Philippines. And while he was able to hand potential investors $200 billion collateral certificates with fancy gold seals (yes, billion). He also told investors they could only talk to others ‘in the program.’ Naylor told them, ‘If you try to verify this with the government, they’ll try to deny everything.” Sandee Dowlin, who presented herself to investors as a certified public accountant with a major Denver firm. In fact, she and Naylor met when she was working as a waitress. During the 1970s, she served sentences for felony check fraud in Montana. Naylor presented himself as a Christian man, an image sold partially by the fact that he was invited to speak at several church groups. Some victims later testified Naylor’s godly persona was part of the reason they believed him. “He portrayed himself as a religious and charitable man,” Leschuck said. “He presented himself as a philanthropist.” Naylor sold his more idealistic investors on the prospect that they could not only contribute to his good works, but when they became millionaires, go on to finance good works of their own. Other victims succumbed for other reasons. One nursing home investor was confined to a wheelchair. Naylor told Schmohl that when the gold bonds matured, he’d be able to buy himself a special car equipped for a handicapped driver. Naylor convinced another elderly investor to let him use his credit card, Leschuck said. Some monthly bills were $20,000-$30,000. Over the course of a few years, the man loaned Naylor $300,000. Even after Naylor was found guilty, at least one of his investors insisted he was innocent and his investment sound. That kind of loyalty could be guilt or desperation. Characteristics of the pitch: High rate of return Need for secrecy Part of an elite group Presented himself as a Christian and promised to invest in worthy causes (a day care center in the Philippines)
  • “ Henry” (not his real name) was a successful businessman, married for 30 years, raised a family and lived a good life. He had accumulated a significant nest egg for his retirement. Shortly after his wife’s death, he received a Federal Express package containing very professional, slick materials detailing an investment in oil and gas wells. The next day, a salesman called him and used high pressure sales tactics (social influence) to persuade him to invest $40,000. Some examples: “ These gas wells are guaranteed to produce $6,800 a month in income.” “ Some of the most successful investors in the country are interested in these wells.” “ There are only two units left in this project.” “ We drilled a well in Texas that had these same early gas readings and the investors all made millions.” Henry ultimately lost over $500,000 to this oil and gas scam, investing in wells that always seemed promising at first, but then ran into trouble and were all capped.
  • Do not give your telephone calling card, credit card, or bank account numbers to strangers by telephone or mail unless you initiated the order for goods or services. Do not be pressured by salespeople into buying NOW . Do not pay for something that is supposedly "free.” Shut the door. Hang the phone.
  • Register with the FTC’s Do-Not-Call Registry (to cut down on telemarketers) or (888) 382-1222. Be very careful about sharing personal financial information. Examine investments carefully. Ask questions and think critically about the return, the investment and who is offering it. Don’t be afraid to ask for the credentials of would-be advisors. Exercise caution about can’t miss deals. Read the fine print and remember, if it’s too good to be true . . .
  • Spring often triggers home improvement scams. Many homeowners' thoughts turn to various projects ranging from roof repairs to house painting. A favorite target for con artists is low-income and elderly homeowners. Using high-pressure tactics, these criminals sell overpriced materials and repairs that are not necessary or they take the money and run, never completing the work. A little extra caution can go a long way in preventing home improvement problems and headaches for you and your family. Take your time in making decisions on contract work for your home.
  • Often lack the physical and mental capability of caring for themselves Studies by the National Crime Prevention Council show that fraudulent telemarketers direct 56 to 80 percent of their calls to senior citizens, the fastest-growing segment of America's population. Source: RIVER PARISHES PICAYUNE; Pg. 1 “Scammers often target elderly; Sheriff has tips for avoiding fraud” August 21, 2006
  • Adult children, grandchildren, or other relatives Professional or hired caretakers – writing checks for a little more to cover “extra work” Friends or others in a position of trust Professional crime groups that target elders and dependent adults Source: Elder and Dependent Adult Fraud: A Sampler of Actual Cases to Profile the Offenders and the Crimes They Perpetrate, by Judith B. Sklar, JD, Journal of Elder Abuse & Neglect, Vol. 12(2) 2000 Jewelry, Checks, ATM card Credit card & identity theft Scams and frauds
  • Caregivers and relatives have a unique position of trust and ongoing relationship with the vulnerable adult. With a power of attorney, a relative or caregiver can make gifts, transfer ownership of a home or borrow money in the senior's name. Power of Attorney Story : Eighty-seven-year-old Elizabeth suspected something was awry when her son told her she couldn't afford to move into an upscale assisted living facility. A few years before, she had given her son durable power of attorney -- a document granting him fiduciary responsibility to make financial decisions on her behalf as long as she is alive. Elizabeth knew she had the money, and when she questioned him about the shortage of funds, he just told her she was wrong. Elizabeth, wary of her son's response, told a friend who contacted Pennsylvania's Adult Protective Services (APS). An investigation by the agency revealed that her son had transferred $225,000 from her account into his own. Fearful of alienating her son, Elizabeth chose not to prosecute. Luckily, he hadn't spent the money and could give it back. Had Elizabeth chosen another person to oversee the account, it may have prevented her son from abusing his trust The most common victims of rip-offs by a caretaker, relative or even a helpful neighbor or repairman are seniors struggling just to stay in their own homes. The process may start rather benignly. An adult child or housekeeper who fills in amounts on checks to pay for a senior's groceries may begin to add on $10, $20 or $50 as compensation for "extra work." The caretaker eventually becomes familiar with the intimate details of the senior's financial life and starts taking larger sums. As the elderly person becomes more frail and helpless, his exploiter feels free to take more and more. Caregiver Story : The case of Frances Reid seems to have followed that pattern. In 1989, deaf and weak, the Riverdale, Ga. widow hired Mildred Addison, 47, to shop for groceries and help with the housework at $5 an hour. Soon after she was hired, Reid's niece Carolyn Smith believes, Addison began using Reid's checkbook to write small amounts to herself. Then as Reid became more and more dependent, the housekeeper grew bolder. At one point Addison impersonated Reid and cashed in certificates of deposit, pocketing large portions herself. After Reid broke her hip and moved to a nursing home, Reid’s daughter took over Reid's finances and discovered irregularities in Reid's bank accounts. A senior does not have to be completely incapacitated to fall prey to fraud, though . Even small erosions in a person's abilities--difficulty in reading, for example--play directly into the hands of con artists in legitimate businesses that want to hustle their customers into a lousy deal. If a person is visually impaired, even partially, someone who has gained his trust may be able to get him to sign a document that is not in his best interest.
  • Aiding and abetting such weaknesses is the elderly's insufficient grasp of common deceptive practices. For all their experience getting and spending, many seniors are much less vigilant than their children, who got their consumer education from the likes of Ralph Nader. If your parents suddenly become secretive or defensive about their finances, that may be a sign that they've already fallen for a con. Identify the Threats Your parents don't have to lose their life savings in one fell swoop to do lasting damage to their financial security--and, by extension, your family's. In fact, many seniors are nickeled-and-dimed into draining their savings, sending $10 here and $20 there for contests and charities that may not be on the up-and-up. Even a small loss for someone on a fixed income is devastating. While the threats come in many varieties, the most common scams against the elderly fall into three categories: • TELEMARKETING SCAMS More than a third of the victims of telemarketing fraud are over 60 years old, according to the National Fraud Information Center. The most common scams are sweepstakes, free vacation packages, phony charity fund raisers, and expensive 900 numbers that entice people with money-saving tips and low-interest-rate credit cards. • AFFINITY FRAUD Among con artists' favorite targets are members of close-knit religious, political, ethnic or social groups. The conjoins the group and then tries to sell fraudulent investment schemes to members once he or she has gained their trust. In one of the scores of cases in the past few years, a Baptist minister named Ronald K. Randolph promised returns of up to 30% in a Ponzi scheme he pitched to elderly members of churches he joined in several southern states. He was able to bilk churchgoers out of $3.5 million from 1997 through 2000, until he was arrested and convicted on fraud charges. • FREE "INVESTMENT SEMINARS“ Financial planners often lure older people with a lunch or dinner and promise free advice from advisers who "specialize" in senior issues such as living trusts or estate planning. Once there, the senior "specialists" pressure attendees into purchasing dubious investments. Favorites are annuities, viatical statements and promissory notes. While these products are usually legal, many are monumentally bad choices for retirees-illiquid, complicated and booby-trapped with high fees. And even if attendees don't buy anything, they're usually required to provide their contact information. That can land them on the "sucker lists" that marketers sell to con artists looking for potential victims. Other good ways to land on these lists: showing an interest in gambling or filling out entries for sweepstakes.
  • Source: A Citizen's Guide to Preventing & Reporting Elder Abuse , the California Department of Justice.
  • Helping manage your parents' money can aid you in noticing trouble early. This is a delicate topic to suggest, but one way to make it easier is to bring up a question or concern you have about your own finances, just to get everyone talking. Failing that kind of access to your parents' financial records, keep alert to other clues. Are your parents getting a lot of junk mail for contests, free trips, and sweepstakes? Are they receiving calls from strangers offering awards or moneymaking deals? That may indicate that they've already ended up on a sucker list Also check around the house. If there are lots of cheap items like costume jewelry or mini-flashlights, they may be purchasing things in order to "win" a contest, one that is a common con-artist lure.
  • Fraud practiced by family members comes in many forms – the grandson who steals checks and makes them out to “cash”. The daughter who uses power of attorney to apply for an ATM card and then withdraw money without authority. A son taking care of Dad’s finances who uses his father’s credit card for personal purchases. Or more serious and complex ploys. A niece who convinces an elderly aunt to redirect certain assets in the will. Or a nephew that convinces an uncle to put the nephews name on the deed. Look for . . . A change in a caregiver’s lifestyle – a grander lifestyle? A new car? Isolation of an elder by the caregiver. – always an excuse as to why the elder isn’t available?
  • But the main burden of safeguarding the elderly from fraud belongs to their families, particularly adult children. The task isn't easy, especially when thousands of miles separate generations. Stay involved, even if it’s over the phone. Break the real or perceived isolation. Discuss finances with them, and if possible, help them keep their assets in order. Observe what they receive in the mail. Telemarketers sell names on “sucker lists” and the offers will pile up. Look for sweepstakes literature. Know who is in their social circle. Are their any new names popping – people who have great ideas about investments? Look at financial statements for unusual activity. If access to credit card and bank statements is possible, look for things like large withdrawals for no apparent reason. Take a visual inventory of the home and note changes. Is anything missing (that could have been stolen or sold)? Are there new things, especially the cheap sort of items that might be sweepstakes prizes or telemarketing schemes? Encourage seniors to complain to the police. Gambling Sister Story: Molly, 68, who was admitted to a New York hospital with renal failure. She gave the durable power of attorney to one of her sisters, who proceeded to empty Molly's account of nearly $50,000 and gamble away the money in Atlantic City. Molly pulled through her illness and discovered the missing funds. She reported the loss to the police, who investigated and turned over evidence an assistant district attorney in charge of the Elder Abuse Program in Manhattan, NY. The sister was prosecuted and had to return the money. To prevent such abuse, hire a lawyer to customize the document. Make sure it explicitly states what bills and other financial transactions you want the agent to handle. Even a well-drafted power of attorney is not foolproof. To add additional protection, assign a third-party, preferably a lawyer or other nonfamily member, to review all spending and monthly financial statements. That oversight would have gone a long way to prevent the fraud in the case of Molly with her sister.
  • Talk about common scams One of the easiest--and most effective--ways to protect your parents is to learn about the most common kinds of senior scams and talk to your folks about them. Tell them it's important they know what's happening--if for no other reason than to warn their friends or other relatives. Take charge. If your parent’s are truly failing and seem to be losing a grip on their finances, then you may have to take charge. Accounts that require two signatures for sizable transactions might be one option. Or have a copy of the finance statement sent to you so you can review transactions. Create a trust for your parents. Typical setup costs run between $1,000 and $3,000. Having an outside party review the actions of the trustee will help cut down the chances of abuse in management and distribution of the trust assets. Background checks on caregivers. Ann, a homebound Manhattan 98-year-old, had her health aide move in to help with personal care and eventually pay bills. By the time her children noticed the aide had been double-paying herself, more than $50,000 had been drained from Ann's account. This case is a good reminder to do a background check on caregivers. Employment agencies aren't required to do them on home health aides. But even if your agency does one, complete your own as well. Remember, though: everyone does stupid things now and then. Allow your parents to be as foolish as you are. But if they don’t learn from their mistakes, then the loses will likely grow.
  • What to do if your fears are warranted If it appears that one of your parents has gotten involved in a scheme, the worst thing you can do is to lecture them. Saying 'I can't believe you fell for this' will not only put an emotional wedge between you and them, it could cause them to start withholding information. Victims already feel very embarrassed and defensive about being caught up in this crime. Instead of judging or getting upset, ask conversationally about the things that worry you. Find out more about how they got that piece of jewelry, say, or what was said at that free lunch. Remember that it may take a while to get some useful information--your parents may be in denial. People don't want to believe they've been scammed. Again, you don't want to make anyone feel incompetent, but even simple tasks such as looking over their phone bills or financial statements can alert you to large ATM withdrawals or expensive calls to 900 numbers. If you think your parents are victims, contact your local police or Better Business Bureau, the Wyoming attorney general, the FTC, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, or the National Fraud Information Center .
  • If you think you've been a victim, contact your local police or Better Business Bureau, the Wyoming attorney general, the FTC, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, or the National Fraud Information Center .
  • Wyoming Attorney General AARP Wyoming Adult Protective Services Consumer Action: provides non-legal advice and referrals on consumer problems Web site: Hotline: 415-777-9635 TTY: 415-777-9456 E-mail: North American Securities Association National Fraud Information Center National Association of Attorneys General National Consumers League Public Education Materials on E-Fraud DOJ Special Report on Phishing (2004) - FTC Identity Theft Website –
  • Consumer Fraud

    1. 1. CONSUMER FRAUD: Protect Yourself! Bill Taylor University of WyomingCommunity Development Area Educator The University of Wyoming is an 1 equal opportunity/affirmative action institution.
    2. 2. Fraud in Wyoming Cheyenne residents targeted Scammer claimed to have known Ferdinand Marcos and had gold certificates worth billions Would receive $1 million for an application fee of $10,000 as part of a ‘self liquidating loan’ 50 investors lost $1 million UW Community 2 Development Education
    3. 3. Warning signs of fraudBe suspicious if you hear  You’ve won a prize or free gift  You’ve been selected to receive a special offer  You must act immediately or lose out  You must pay for shipping your prize or free gift  Give us your credit card number and expiration date to verify that you are a credit cardholder UW Community 3 Development Education
    4. 4. More warning signs of fraud  You’re asked for personal information  You’re asked to donate to an agency whose name sounds like a well known charity  You’re one of only a chosen few to receive this offer  A courier will come to your home to get your payment  Little risk and large, short term profits UW Community 4 Development Education
    5. 5. Sucker lists  If you often respond to sweepstakes or contests, your name might be added to lists sold to con artists  A sucker list contains the names of people who have been, or are good candidates to be, victims of fraud  People on the lists may hear from crooks who claim they can help recover, for a fee, money lost to a con artist UW Community 5 Development Education
    6. 6. Types of scams Following are various types of scams This list is not exhaustive  list 227 present scams, with more added as they appear UW Community 6 Development Education
    7. 7. Phishing A term used for emails that claim to be from your bank, a reputable business or a government agency Criminals ask for personal information such as Social Security numbers or account numbers to steal funds and/or steal identities UW Community 7 Development Education
    8. 8. GrammarA phishing email. . .– preys on fears– nothing is safe Spelling The University of Wyoming is an 8 equal opportunity/affirmative action institution.
    9. 9. Nigerian letters E-mails that ask recipients to provide their bank account number to help them share in a big pot of money If you respond to these letters you will lose your money UW Community 9 Development Education
    10. 10. Sweepstakes and lotteries You’re told that you’ve won a sweepstakes or the Canadian lottery You’re asked to pay for processing, taxes or delivery, or provide a bank account number to verify your identity No one ever receives a penny except for the thieves UW Community 10 Development Education
    11. 11. Travel scams Before buying travel packages  Get the offer in writing  Check to see if the company is legitimate:  the Better Business Bureau  state attorney general’s office  your local consumer protection agency  the U.S. Dept. of Transportation (DOT) at 202-366-2396  Always use a credit card to purchase travel UW Community 11 Development Education
    12. 12. Charities ‘Sound-alike’ names can be tricky Nonprofit and charitable groups must file IRS Form 990  Check 990s at GuideStar Before you donate, check to see if the charity is legitimate  773-529- 2300 UW Community 12 Development Education
    13. 13. Work-at-home scams Do not respond—these offers are scams If you respond, you’ll be asked to pay for supplies upfront Might ask you for your credit card, bank account or Social Security numbers for fraudulent uses UW Community 13 Development Education
    14. 14. Credit card fraud Keep an eye on your credit cards at all times Unscrupulous employees might steal the information from your credit card and use it to make counterfeit cards Shred all credit card statements, receipts and solicitations before throwing them away UW Community 14 Development Education
    15. 15. Dumpster diving Crooks look in garbage cans and elsewhere for discarded credit card statements and receipts to obtain the card numbers These papers can be used to steal your identity and set up credit in your name Shred sensitive papers UW Community 15 Development Education
    16. 16. Real estate fraud Before purchasing property out of state, contact a national real estate firm with licensed brokers Before you purchase land contact:  The state department of real estate where the land is located  The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at 202-708-0502 UW Community 16 Development Education
    17. 17. Contractor fraud  Traveling contractors are rarely licensed or insured and often take a large cash payment up front  They will probably never return to complete the work  When you need a contractor for a home improvement job, get at least 3 estimates from reputable local contractors UW Community 17 Development Education
    18. 18. Home equity loan fraud  Often working with unscrupulous lenders, door-to-door salespeople offer “easy financing” for improvements and home repairs that may not be needed at all  Often the work they do is shoddy or incomplete  The loans they arrange are secured by your home and often carry very high interest rates and other costs UW Community 18 Development Education
    19. 19. Refinancing scams  Brokers solicit homeowners to refinance their existing mortgages and replace them with bad loans  Bad loans have inflated fees and interest and high monthly payments that homeowners cannot afford to pay  The homeowner falls into default and the home is foreclosed on  The crooks buy up the real estate at deflated prices UW Community 19 Development Education
    20. 20. Deed forgeries Scam artists forge the homeowner’s signature on a blank deed in order to transfer ownership of their property Never sign blank contract documents UW Community 20 Development Education
    21. 21. Fly-by-night lenders Phony lenders  Set up offices in low income and minority neighborhoods  Get homeowners’ signatures on loan documents  Disappear with the loan money  Loans may be resold to another lender who then forecloses on the homes UW Community 21 Development Education
    22. 22. Investment fraud Everyone would like to see his or her money grow faster Crooks try to convince people to buy phony investments with promises of unusually high returns UW Community 22 Development Education
    23. 23. Analysis of Audio TapesInvestment fraud criminals use a wide array of influence tactics. The research found 1,100 separate uses of the influence tactics in 128 transcripts. The most frequently-used tactics were:  Phantom Fixation – “These gas wells are guaranteed to produce $6,800 a month in income.”  Commitment – “You can vote to stop drilling, but if you do, all the rest of what you have invested will be lost.”  Authority – “I have been in the oil business for over 30 years and I have seen it all.”  Social Consensus – “I know it’s a lot of additional money to spend, but I am in this thing just as deep as you are and I say its worth every dime.”  Scarcity – “There are only two units left in this well.” UW Community 23 Development Education
    24. 24. Avoid investment fraud Do your homework about investments If you are targeted with questionable investment offers, notify the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Call your state attorney general’s office to file a complaint UW Community 24 Development Education
    25. 25. Checking investments Check with the SEC before investing Has the offering been cleared for sale in your state? Call your state securities department Check disciplinary actions against brokers with the Central Registration Depository (CRD) The National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) may provide a disciplinary history on a broker or firm. 800-289-9999 or UW Community 25 Development Education
    26. 26. Pyramid schemes Promoters recruit investors and use them to recruit more investors Investors are promised a fabulous return, such as 20% a year Some investors might receive money but eventually, the organizers run off with everything Pyramid schemes are often called “investment clubs” or “gifting circles,” and can involve the sale of products or distributorships UW Community 26 Development Education
    27. 27. ID theftID theft criminals use your personal information to apply for credit or government benefits  Your name  Your birth date  Your Social Security number  Your address  Your bank account or credit card numbers UW Community 27 Development Education
    28. 28. Fake cashier’s checks Crooks scan want ads looking for victims Answer ads and offer to pay by “cashier’s check” for more than the sales price Ask you to wire the remainder of the money back to them or to give the extra money and the merchandise to a “shipper” Check turns out to be a fake and you lose the merchandise and the money UW Community 28 Development Education
    29. 29. Credit card loss protection Don’t buy the worthless credit card loss protection and insurance programs sold by telemarketers Your liability for unauthorized credit card charges is limited to $50 UW Community 29 Development Education
    30. 30. Protect your property and assets  Financial exploitation is often committed by a person that is trusted by the victim  Keep all important financial documents under lock and key in your home  Store valuables in a bank safe deposit box UW Community 30 Development Education
    31. 31. Medicare fraud  Medicare prohibits companies offering its approved drug cards from calling you, sending emails or coming to your home unless you ask them  If you are interested in the benefits available to you as a Medicare beneficiary, visit the federal government’s Medicare web site ( or call 800- MEDICARE (800-633-4227) UW Community 31 Development Education
    32. 32. Health fraud Signs of health fraud include:  Promoters of cures who claim that the medical establishment is keeping information away from consumers  Testimonials from people who supposedly have been cured  “Secret formulas” that no one else has  The use of infomercials—programs that look like news, but are just lengthy ads paid for by the promoter UW Community 32 Development Education
    33. 33. Living trusts Living trusts are a legitimate estate- planning tool Typically, consumers with low income and small estates do not need them  Consider a living trust only if your estate’s value is higher than the state’s minimum limit for probate, which is $100,000 in Wyoming UW Community 33 Development Education
    34. 34. Funerals and burial scams  While it makes sense to plan your funeral and burial in advance, it is not a good idea to pay for these services in advance  Draw up your plans with a reputable funeral business and save a copy for your survivors  If you want cover the cost of your funeral include funds to do so in your will UW Community 34 Development Education
    35. 35. Warning signs of fraud Be suspicious if you hear  You’ve won a prize or free gift  You’ve been selected to receive a special offer  You must act immediately or lose out  You must pay for shipping your prize or free gift  Give us your credit card number and expiration date to verify that you are a credit cardholder UW Community 35 Development Education
    36. 36. More warning signs of fraud  You’re asked for personal information  You’re asked to donate to an agency whose name sounds like a well known charity  You’re one of only a chosen few to receive this offer  A courier will come to your home to get your payment UW Community 36 Development Education
    37. 37. Protect your assets Never  reveal your financial information to someone who calls you on the phone  allow strangers to come into your home  believe that a stranger will use your money for a good purpose  assign power of attorney to people you don’t know very well  sign contracts that have any blank lines in them UW Community 37 Development Education
    38. 38. What is ID theft?Criminals use your personal information to apply for credit or government benefits  Your name  Your birth date  Your Social Security number  Your address  Your bank account or credit card numbers UW Community 38 Development Education
    39. 39. What can be done with a false ID? Open credit cards, buy goods Take out loans Get cell phones Open bank accounts Seek employment Open credit accounts Pay bills UW Community 39 Development Education
    40. 40. What is account fraud?Unauthorized charges, withdrawals or new accountsCrooks use:  Identification  Credit card numbers  Social security numbers  Bank account information UW Community 40 Development Education
    41. 41. It pays to prevent ID theftVictims spend an average of 600 hours recovering from ID theft often over a period of years.It is estimated that every victim of ID theft spends $1,400 in out-of-pocket expenses to clear their names UW Community 41 Development Education
    42. 42. Are you already a victim? Check your credit report Look for  Accounts you don’t recognize  Inaccurate information UW Community 42 Development Education
    43. 43. Credit reports Check your credit reports regularly. Free credit reports can be obtained once a year from each of the 3 credit reporting agencies  Equifax  Experian  TransUnion UW Community 43 Development Education
    44. 44. Credit reporting agencies Equifax, 800-525-6285, Experian, 888-397-3742, TransUnion, 800-680-7289, UW Community 44 Development Education
    45. 45. Free credit reports Annual Credit Report   (877) 322-8228  Annual Credit Report, Request Service, PO Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281 UW Community 45 Development Education
    46. 46. Victims - be watchful Dispute fraudulent accounts immediately  Close all affected accounts  Follow up your phone call with a written request Get letters stating disputed accounts have been closed Create new passwords for all of your accounts  Avoid easy-to-guess passwords UW Community 46 Development Education
    47. 47. Social Security number (SSN) Memorize your Social Security number (SSN) Don’t carry your Social Security card Don’t print your SSN on your driver’s license or bank checks Keep all papers listing your SSN hidden or locked away Shred all documents with SSNs before you throw them away UW Community 47 Development Education
    48. 48. Financial information Check bills, bank and credit card statements  Report any unauthorized transactions immediately Track statements, new credit cards or check orders in the mail Call the companies immediately if you notice  Unauthorized transactions  Missing credit cards or checks UW Community 48 Development Education
    49. 49. Cards and account numbers Shield ATM keypads when entering passwords Memorize your PINs Watch your cards while they are with sales clerks or waiters Lock your own mailbox  Use US post boxes for outgoing mail that contains account numbers UW Community 49 Development Education
    50. 50. Phone and Internet Don’t answer callers or e-mails asking for personal information  Remember, you may be overheard on a cell phone Always make sure you are dealing with reputable companies UW Community 50 Development Education
    51. 51. Marketing Read your bank’s privacy notice Stop or ‘opt out’ of pre-screened credit offers  (888) 5OPT-OUT UW Community 51 Development Education
    52. 52. Monitor your mail Missed bills, credit card statements, etc. may signal trouble UW Community 52 Development Education
    53. 53. Always question … Charges, bills or collection calls that are not yours  Complain immediately Denials of credit when you have good credit  Get a free copy of the credit report used to make the decision  Check for mistakes or fraud UW Community 53 Development Education
    54. 54. ID theft clean up Document the crime File a police report with your local police department  Get a copy of the police report Contact appropriate state and federal law enforcement agencies Complete a free ID Theft Affidavit from the FTC  UW Community 54 Development Education
    55. 55. Password accounts Place passwords on your credit card, bank and phone accounts Don’t use easy-to-guess names and numbers Ask businesses not to use SSN or mother’s maiden name UW Community 55 Development Education
    56. 56. What can you do: General1. Do not give your telephone calling card, credit card, or bank account numbers to strangers by telephone or mail unless you initiated the order for goods or services.2. Do not be pressured by salespeople into buying NOW.3. Do not pay to receive a free gift.4. Shut the door. Hang up the phone. UW Community 56 Development Education
    57. 57. What can you do: Telemarketers1. Register with the FTC’s Do-Not-Call Registry (to cut down on telemarketers) or (888) 382-1222.2. Be very careful about sharing personal financial information.3. Be skeptical about unsolicited phone calls, especially about investments. Say: "Sorry, I do not do business over the phone." UW Community 57 Development Education
    58. 58. What you can do: Investments1. Ask for information about the company, price information, and written estimates from door-to-door salespeople before doing business with them.2. Examine investments carefully.3. Exercise caution about can’t miss deals. UW Community 58 Development Education
    59. 59. What you can do: Contractors1. Ask the contractor for local references. Find out if other customers were satisfied with the work.2. Check with the Better Business Bureau for complaints against the contractor.3. Demand to review the contractors business license and insurance certificate. Refuse to deal with anyone who will not provide this information.4. Do not pay up-front for home repairs. Divide payments up to ensure you are not left with an empty bank account by an unethical contractor. UW Community 59 Development Education
    60. 60. Elder Abuse: Background  Often traced to family members, caregivers and trusted friends  Adult Protective Services (APS) agencies report more cases of financial abuse than physical abuse each year  Only 1 of 14 cases of domestic vulnerable adult abuse incidences is reported UW Community 60 Development Education
    61. 61. Elder Abuse Perpetrator Profiles1. Adult children, grandchildren, or other relatives2. Professional or hired caretakers3. Friends or others in a position of trust4. Professional crime groups that target elders and dependent adults UW Community 61 Development Education
    62. 62. Caretaker crimes Be alert for caregivers  who try to isolate you from your friends and family  who ask about your will and investments  who ask to be given power of attorney  who try to dominate or influence you Tell family members or call adult protective services UW Community 62 Development Education
    63. 63. Relative and Caregiver OffendersMethods of financial exploitation include: Simply taking the victim’s money Signing or cashing the person’s pension or social security checks without permission Forging a signature to cash checks Deceiving or coercing the victim into signing checks, documents (will, contract) Transferring title on, or re-encumbering, real property Improper use of conservatorship, guardianship, or power of attorney. UW Community 63 Development Education
    64. 64. Spot the Warning Signs: Behavior1. Change in the elders spending patterns, such as buying items he or she doesnt need and cant use.2. Lack of personal amenities, such as appropriate clothing and grooming items.3. The appearance of a stranger who begins a new close relationship and offers to manage the elders finances and assets.4. Parents suddenly become secretive or defensive about their finances. UW Community 64 Development Education
    65. 65. Spot the Warning Signs: Banking1. Numerous unpaid bills when someone else has been designated to pay the bills.2. Abrupt or unexplained change in durable power of attorney3. Allegations of missing funds from a seniors account4. Sudden increase in credit card activity or a flurry of bounced checks5. Checks written out of their numerical order6. Financial statements sent to an unauthorized address7. Signature that seems unusual or suspicious8. Checks or other documents signed when the elder cannot write or understand what he or she is signing. UW Community 65 Development Education
    66. 66. Spot the Warning Signs: Other Junk mail for contests, free trips, and sweepstakes Calls from strangers offering awards or moneymaking deals Cheap items like costume jewelry or mini-flashlights UW Community 66 Development Education
    67. 67. Tips to Identifying Family Fraud1. Monitor your credit card and bank account activity.2. Be wary if a distant relative offers to help you with your finances.3. If you suspect something, find another family member you trust to talk to.Look for . . .  A change in a caregiver’s lifestyle – a grander lifestyle?  Isolation of an elder by the caregiver. UW Community 67 Development Education
    68. 68. What can you do: Family/Caregivers 1. Arrange for direct deposit of Social Security checks and other retirement benefits. 2. Carefully choose someone to appoint as power of attorney and in completing or revising a will. 3. Be careful about permitting family, friends or tenants to live in your house. Have a written agreement about expectations of services to be performed or rent paid. 4. Treat home attendants like employees, not friends. 5. Keep valuables hidden if someone comes into the house on a regular basis. 6. Maintain contact with family, friends, neighbors and/or your community center. The more active you are, the less likely you are to be exploited. UW Community 68 Development Education
    69. 69. What can a relative do? Stay involved, even if it’s over the phone. Observe what they receive in the mail. Know who is in their social circle. Look at financial statements for unusual activity. Take a visual inventory of the home and note changes. Encourage seniors to complain to the police. UW Community 69 Development Education
    70. 70. What can a relative do? (2)  Talk about common scams.  Perform background checks on caregivers.  Take charge.  Create a trust. Remember: Everyone does stupid things. UW Community 70 Development Education
    71. 71. What to do if your fears arewarranted Don’t lecture them. Call the police  You may need a police report to help you prove that you were a victim Contact your state and local law enforcement agencies such as your district attorney’s office or the Wyoming Attorney General UW Community 71 Development Education
    72. 72. National Association of SecuritiesDealers FindingsInvestment fraud victims are more financially literate than non- victimsFraud pitches are tailored to match the psychological needs of the victimsInvestment fraud criminals use a variety of tactics, from friendship to fear and intimidation, to defraud victimsInvestment fraud and lottery fraud victims are more likely to listen to sales pitches than non-victimsFraud victims often have experienced more difficulties from negative life events than non-victims UW Community 72 Development Education
    73. 73. Vulnerable ConsumersAssume They Are Experts. Vulnerable consumers do not seek information about a subject or "opportunity". They may not admit their lack of necessary knowledge or skills.Do Not Use Common Sense. Vulnerable consumers let "getting something for nothing" overtake sound reasoning. They do not question what sounds too good to be true. They accept the deal rapidly for fear they might miss the opportunity. UW Community 73 Development Education
    74. 74. Vulnerable ConsumersSearch for Good Health. Vulnerable consumers let universal desire to be healthy overtake good judgment. They believe in false cures for an illness or chronic condition.Believe Misleading Ads. Vulnerable consumers assume publications accept advertisements from reputable sources only. They assume information in advertisements has been verified as true. UW Community 74 Development Education
    75. 75. Vulnerable ConsumersFeel Intimidated. Vulnerable consumers buy a product or service out of assumed obligation to the seller. They feel threatened when they question price or quality of goods or services.Do Not Know or Use Their Legal Rights. Vulnerable consumers do not seek legal counsel when needed. They often fail to report being swindled to law enforcement agencies. UW Community 75 Development Education
    76. 76. If you become a victim... Call the police  You may need a police report to help you prove that you were a victim Contact your state and local law enforcement agencies such as your district attorney’s office or the Wyoming Attorney General UW Community 76 Development Education
    77. 77. Resources Wyoming Attorney General AARP Wyoming Adult Protective Services Consumer Action North American Securities Association National Fraud Information Center National Association of Attorneys General National Consumers League UW Community 77 Development Education
    78. 78. Additional resources  FTC ID Theft Clearinghouse / ID Theft Hotline  US Department of Justice  Federal Bureau of Investigation  Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation  United States Postal Inspection Service  United States Secret Service UW Community 78 Development Education
    79. 79. Non-profit organizations Consumer Action  Identity Theft Resource Center  National Fraud Information Center  Privacy Rights Clearinghouse  UW Community 79 Development Education
    80. 80. Questions?The University of Wyoming is an 80 equal opportunity/affirmative action institution.