Everybody is worried about cyber attacks, identity theft, and hackers when it comes to their personal finances. Many senior citizens are so afraid that they will not do online banking, and they don’t even want to file their tax returns over the Internet. The IRS prefers online filing because they would rather have everything in a digital format, who can blame them, it cuts down on their administration costs, and it keeps everything very simple. That is of course until something goes wrong, something like identity theft and financial fraud.
Don’t think it can’t happen, it happens all the time. For instance, there was an interesting article in the Boston Business Journal on January 14, 2013 titled; “Citizens Bank teller could do 30 years for embezzling from elderly victims,” where a teller reportedly stole some $375,000 from three elderly bank customers. What is so unfortunate is that this is far too common a problem. What usually occurs is there is basically an inside job. The teller collects the information from the senior citizen when they make a deposit; their signature, bank account number, and all their information. They may even know how often they make deposits and withdrawals. They also know how much money is in the account.
Next, the bank teller slips this information to a friend who then carries out the fraud or identity theft by coming into the bank, cashing a large check, or creating a fake check or using information from the senior citizen’s online banking or ATM pin code. It often happens that seniors may not even know they’ve been ripped off for many months. This makes it even harder to catch the thieves because by the time the bank finds out or someone doing the accounting or tax return for the senior citizen notices something is missing, it is months after the fact.
By then the thieves are long gone, along with all of the elderly person’s money. Luckily, we have stiff penalties for those who would rip-off senior citizens, and that’s a good thing. Of course, this is only one way that seniors are ripped off every day, many of the other ways involve much more elaborate schemes, and some of those take years for anyone to ever catch. If you know of someone who may have been ripped off, someone who is a senior citizen, there are all sorts of local, regional, and federal authorities you can contact. It’s up to all of us to look out for our senior citizens.