If you’re a senior, there’s an army of criminals marching toward you, and estimates from the Federal Trade Commission say one in five seniors fall victim to their fraud operations. The scams come in a variety of flavors. Using “social engineering” methods and sophisticated online data-phishing techniques, the scammers see one thing when they contact a Little Old Lady From Pasadena – a ready victim.
Experts estimate, in New York state alone, a half-million New York seniors have fallen victim to various schemes.
Insurer MetLife conducted a study which found, among other things, that seniors lose an estimated $2.6 billion to financial abuse schemes every year.
In all, seniors are said to account for more than half of all investor complaints reported to state securities regulators.
Efforts are constantly underway to propose legislation and grant programs aimed at protecting senior investors from fraud.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners, via a program called Get Smart About Insurance, works with state organizations to protect seniors from scammers and their abusive methods. The program is aimed at helping seniors be aware of the latest make a well-informed decision.
Other state lawmakers, such as those in the Florida legislature, created a bill to help shield that state’s senior citizens from insurance and annuities fraud.
“I’ve met with hundreds of senior victims throughout Florida, heard their heartbreaking stories, and fought for better protections and harsher penalties against seniors scammers,” says Florida Department of Financial Services CFO Alex Sink. “Finally the Legislature did the right thing.”
Sink’s Safeguard Our Seniors bill was aimed at preventing seniors from falling prey to scammers and cutting down on the more 500 fraud investigations opened in the state.
“Every year, my department investigates hundreds of bad actors who prey upon Florida seniors, luring them into inappropriate investments and draining their hard-earned savings,” Sink says.
The bill invoked strict penalties for those who manipulate annuities. It also forces scammers to pay damages and restitution to their victims. In addition, the bill extended the time a senior citizen has to review – and even to cancel – any policies.
Yet another inclusion in the bill allows for a life insurance agent to be banned from serving as a beneficiary, guardian or trustee of a customer’s policy.
This sort of legislation is critical as the Coalition against Insurance Fraud says insurance fraud costs Americans more than $80 billion – every year.
It comes down to this; consumers should carefully examine any documents, work only with reputable firms when purchasing an annuity or life insurance policy and it wouldn’t hurt to have a second opinion before signing or approving financial agreements.