David Lerner Associates: Fraud Tips for Older Americans
According to the FBI, there are thousands of fraudulent telemarketing companies operating in the United States, as well as an increasing number of illegal telemarketers who target U.S. residents from locations in Canada and other countries.  Nearly a third of all telemarketing fraud victims are age 60 or older and studies by AARP show that most older telemarketing fraud victims don’t realize that the voice on the phone could belong to someone who is trying to steal their money.
The AARP research shows that many older victims are not lonely or isolated. Most are active seniors lured by false promises of great deals, or ways to add to their "nest eggs." This desire to secure their future makes it easy for those who commit frauds, as the criminal element sees those over 60 as soft targets and a quick meal ticket.
Now that the majority of seniors are active online , scammers are targeting them with “phishing” emails. This is a fake e-mail purporting to be from a legitimate business – like a bank or UPS. The emails are designed to lead consumers to counterfeit websites that trick them into divulging their financial data, such as user names and passwords.
These phishing emails use language like “login now or your account will be frozen”   or “last chance to take advantage of the special offer attached to your account, login to redeem” or “confirm your details to receive your package.” Many of these phishing schemes are so sophisticated that the receiver would not spot that they are a fake and could well be sent by someone sitting in a shack in the Philippines or Nigeria.
Watch out for the emails from a shipping company like UPS or Amazon, where the fraudsters use the logo and a URL similar to the real company. The email says there has been a purchase in the receiver’s name and that they need to confirm and sort out the delivery of the purchase. Since the person receiving the email has not made any purchase, they feel they need to click the link to prevent a fraudulent purchase from being charged to their account. Once you login on the fraudulent site, the scammers have access to your real account.
Many over 60 are on limited incomes and that is what makes these scams and fraud schemes so heartbreaking. Any senior who has been the victim of a fraud should report it and get help immediately and anyone with parents who are getting older should make sure they understand the new technology available to scammers and fraudsters.
Tips to Avoid Fraud
1. If you are at all suspicious about anyone who calls you with a supposed investment opportunity, simply say, “I’m sorry, I am not interested. Thank you.” Then hang up right away. By knowing (and practicing) this exit strategy in advance, it will be easier to end these conversations, even if the pressure starts rising.
2. Turn the tables and ask the caller some questions. A legitimate investment professional must be properly licensed and registered with FINRA, as well as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or a state securities regulator. And securities must be registered with the SEC before shares can be sold to the public. So ask callers if they are FINRA and SEC or state registered and verify their answers by visiting SaveAndInvest.org or by calling (888) 295-7422.
You can also call your state securities regulator to find out what they know about the caller, and consult the SEC’s EDGAR database of company filings at www.sec.gov/edgar.shtml.
3. Talk to an objective investment professional before making any investment decisions. If the caller tells you not to tell anyone else about this “special deal,” this should raise major red flags. Legitimate investment professionals usually will not make a request like this. You should always talk to an objective, independent investment advisor who is looking out for your best interest before making any investment decisions.
Another way to protect yourself is to remove your name from telemarketing and junk mail lists. Here are some resources to help you do this:
• Telemarketing Calls: www.donotcall.gov or (888) 382-1222
• Direct Mail and Email Offers: www.dmachoice.org
• Credit Card Offers: www.optoutprescreen.com or (888) 567-8688
• Online Cookie Collecting: www.networkadvertising.org
Most legitimate securities firms will honor your request. So if you still receive a solicitation after removing your name from these lists, there’s a good chance it is from an investment or financial fraudster.
Phishing emails:  
- Be suspicious of any email that asks you to log in on another website. Don’t click suspicious links.
- Check the return email address – if it is not the legitimate email for that company, delete it. Example: @amazon.com @yourbank.com
- Be on the lookout for poor grammar or spelling.
- Most businesses or organizations don’t ask for your personal information through email. Beware of any requests to update or confirm your personal information
- Install and regularly update the security programs on your computer, such as antivirus and anti-spyware.
Material contained in this article is provided for information purposes only and is not intended to be used in connection with the evaluation of any investments offered by David Lerner Associates, Inc. This material does not constitute an offer or recommendation to buy or sell securities and should not be considered in connection with the purchase or sale of securities. These materials are based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable-- we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice.
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Founded in 1976, David Lerner Associates is a privately-held broker/dealer with headquarters in Syosset, New York and branch offices in Westport, CT; Boca Raton, FL; Teaneck and Princeton, NJ; and White Plains, NY. For more information contact David Lerner Associates Call 516-921-4200 Visit our website: http://www.davidlerner.com