Sonya SellmeyerBy Sonya Sellmeyer, Consumer Advocacy Officer for the Iowa Insurance Division
 
May is Older Americans Month.  We can all celebrate by helping ensure the older Americans in our lives know how to protect themselves from being the target of scams.

The Iowa Insurance Division often holds Fraud Fighter events around the state to educate older Iowans about investment and other types of scams.  We partner with agencies like the Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP), the Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) and the Iowa Attorney General’s Office to cover as many scams as possible.  At the end of each event, all attendees are deputized as “Fraud Fighters”.  Now more than ever we need to be Fraud Fighters to protect all Iowans and shield our savings.

Most of the recent COVID-19 scams are recycled and wrapped in a current event package that preys on our fears and emotions. Scammers are still using the same methods - robocalls, text messages, email, or even a knock at the door.  For everyone’s protection remember these Fraud Fighter basics:

 
  • Don’t answer your phone if you don’t know the number calling you.

  • Don’t click on any links in a text message or email if you don’t know the sender, or the message is being sent out of the blue.  Use caution even if you do know the sender.  

  • Don’t provide personal information over the phone, via text, or email.  

  • Be cautious of anyone at your door attempting to sell you something.  You may be putting your health and financial wellness at risk. 

  • Don’t pay in advance for stimulus money, information about aid programs or investments in the latest miracle cure - it doesn’t exist.  

  • Be cautious of any investment tied to the threat of COVID-19. 

  • Don’t use gift cards for payment.   Anyone who demands payment by gift card is running a scam.

  • Stop immediately and alert officials if a person is threatening blackmail.

  • Beware of investment opportunities not tied to the stock market such as gold, silver, coins, and other commodities. 

  • Be cautious of investment scams touting guaranteed returns which can be used to pay for rent, food, or other expenses. 

  • Research any investment recommendations that encourage you to liquidate investments.  Another financial product with higher returns may incur higher fees or additional risk. 

IowaFraudFighters.gov is a resource to learn about recent scams being seen in Iowa that currently include investment, technology, lottery, IRS, and romance scams, to name a few.  Remember if someone is playing to your emotions, or trying to get you to navigate off your financial course, talk to someone you trust before acting on those emotions.  Double-check before you invest to make sure the product and the person selling it are properly licensed and understand what you are purchasing.  Always remember if it sounds too good to be true it is!

Acknowledge the older Americans in your life during May by reaching out and checking in during this challenging time, and ensure all older Americans know the Fraud Fighter basics.

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