Elder fraud: What to do if you’ve been scammed

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Elder fraud: What can you do?

What if it happens to your mother or father? What can you do?

I recently received a frantic call from a distraught family member saying that her mother has been scammed out of thousands of dollars. The mother, a woman in her seventies, had responded to a Nigerian Scam, which claimed the mother had a fund in the amount of $5,000,000. They also said that an ATM card would be sent and just needed $150.00 for the money to be hers…

She took the bait, as she was excited to have this money for grandchildren to go to college. She not only sent the money but she also gave them her personal information. As you could expect, her identity was gone – and not just for this one transaction, but for maybe for life.

That’s the saddest part. A person’s identity once stolen is almost always for life. This information is sold and resold to others. The non-stop phone calls, the information about her bank account, her social security number, possibly a picture, her Medicare card number – the potential for complete identity theft, and the subsequent fraud, is simply now left to the imagination of the thief.

What if this is your mother or father? What can you do?

First, act quickly. Once you know that a scam was set in place, change the phone number, and change it as often as necessary.

Call the bank and inform the bank manager that a scam has taken place. Let the manager know you want to be notified of anything that would raise red flags.

File a police report, as well. This may sound foolish because rarely are the “perps” ever found or prosecuted. But, you should do this because some banks and credit card companies may ask for one.

Next, and maybe the most important, contact the three credit reporting services and place a fraud alert and credit freeze on the account. This will prevent new credit cards from being issued without your permission, and only after you have been alerted.

Certainly, notify all credit cards about possible misuse or consider cancelling them and re-applying for new ones. I recommend trying to find a credit card company that excels at monitoring fraud.

Take my advice for what it is… it’s just AS I SEE IT.

VIALeonard F. Baer
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Leonard F. Baer
Leonard Baer's practice focuses on Elder Law, and Estate Planning. His previous experience was in the area of complex criminal litigation, serving as Deputy Chief of the Major Crimes Division for The United States Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Florida. Mr. Baer was recognized by the Office of The Attorney General, as one of the top prosecutors in the country during his tenure. He has been included in North Carolina Top Rated Lawyers, a distinction awarded to those lawyers recognized by their colleagues as leaders in their field. He has also been recognized by the Florida Bar, for his efforts in representing seniors and their families, who are victims of scams and fraud. Mr. Baer is an AV rated lawyer listed in Martindale-Hubbell, and has been selected for inclusion in their Bar Registrar of Preeminent Lawyers, which for over 90 years, includes only those select law practices that have earned their highest rating. He has been designated by Martindale-Hubbell as preeminent in his field, and in the top 5% of all lawyers practicing in the United States. Mr. Baer has also been ranked by AVVO, an online Legal Directory of over 200,000 lawyers nationally, as Superb, their highest rating. He served as adjunct professor of Sports Law at The University of Miami, and is a frequent lecturer on the topics of Elder Law, Estate Planning, Asset Protection and Fraud Protection. He has been a columnist for several newspapers for over 13 years and currently has a nationally syndicated blog, “As I See It” with a readership of over 25,000.

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