Money Matters: Protecting older adults from scammers

Photo Courtesy Oregon Pacific Bank

Sponsored by Oregon Pacific Bank

By Kelli Warner & Christine Sherk

 Scams targeting seniors are more sophisticated than ever. Learning how scammers operate andwhat to watch out for is key to protecting yourself or a loved one.

Lori Gates, who is Vice President, Branch Manager and Business Development Officer at Oregon Pacific Bank’s Florence Branch, helps to get the word out to local seniors about typical scams, how they work and how to avoid being swindled. It’s just one of the many ways Lori and her team look out for their customers.

“We have customers that come in just about every day regarding a scam that they’ve been involved in,” Lori says.

Seniors are generally targeted because they’ve had more time to accumulate wealth and are often seen as more trusting, Lori says.

According to the National Council on Aging, phone scams are the most common types of fraud attempts affecting seniors. These scammers may impersonate government agencies and use fear tactics like threatening victims with arrest if payments aren’t made. Other scams lure seniors in with fake prizes, sweepstakes or lotteries.

Check out the top 5 financial scams targeting older adults.

“They have worked so hard for their money all their lives and now they have this nest egg, and these scam artists are trying to take advantage of them,” says Lori, who visits residences such as Shorewood Senior Living to share her knowledge with community members. “It’s important for us to help educate them and know what to look out for so they don’t get scammed.”

The don’ts

Lori tells customers never give out personal information, including social security number, account numbers or passwords. She also offers these important tips:

  • Do not click on links or attachments in unsolicited emails, texts or social media messages.
  • Don’t make any financial decision quickly. If you’re being asked to do so, that’s a red flag.
  • Monitor your accounts regularly for suspicious activity.
  • If you suspect you’ve been victimized, contact your bank and local law enforcement immediately.

 Sharing these helpful tips with seniors is just one of many ways OPB serves the community, Lori says. “It’s a feel-good situation. It’s a win-win. We get to help our clients, and the clients know us, and they know we can assist them in any way that we can.”

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