Senior citizens learn tactics to prevent fraud
State officials say senior citizens can be more vulnerable than any other age group to fall victim to fraud, and on Tuesday night, Bozeman senior citizens learned some important lessons on how to fight back against the crime.
According to a study done by the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, financial fraud costs Americans more than $50 million per year, and Americans 65 and older are more likely to be targeted by criminals and lose money.
Falling victim to fraud is something Kay Nordlund knows well.
"At 84 years of age, I'm learning not to trust hardly anyone because I have dealt with fraud a lot," Nordlund explained.
She said she has dealt with email fraud, time share fraud, and most recently, credit card fraud.
"One day I was...shopping and the next day I was in England and they said that didn't seem right," she said. "I said, 'yes that's true, I haven't been to England for several years.'"
That's why, on Tuesday night, she came to learn how to better protect herself.
Alex Ward with the Crime Prevention Association told a group of senior citizens that anyone can fall victim to fraud, so it is important to know the right tips and tricks.
"We're trying to create fraud fighters," Ward said. "People who can go out into the community and they can recognize red flags that may indicate that somebody is being victimized."
Residents at the Bozeman Senior Center heard from Ward, as well as other speakers like Cindy Palmer from the office of the Commissioner of Securities and Insurance.
"Older people have saved nest eggs," Palmer explained. "They've paid for their homes and the con men know that's where the money is."
Palmer said seniors can be especially vulnerable to the crime, because they often have money saved up.
So, she said, it's important people know all the different types of fraud, from investment fraud to fake sweepstakes, so if they're being targeted, they know what to do.
"Stop, get your emotions out of the equation and do your due diligence," Palmer said. "investigate, talk to people, talk to the experts."
"It's hard when you're doing the right thing and you're careful with all your cards," Kay said.
Nordlund said for her and the other participants, the seminar showed them how to keep their money and themselves safe.
Here are some tips to help you avoid fraud:
Whether someone contacts you through phone, email or in person, end the conversation.
Practice saying, "no, I am not interested." Officials said knowing your exit strategy in advance makes it easier to deflect the situation.
Turn the tables and ask questions, and talk to someone else first. Discuss potential investments or business opportunities with your family or a trusted financial professional.