Back in March, our Marketing Specialist, Amanda Pierce, chats with Keith Chech from WFPS 92.1 FM about the rise in online dating scams and what we can do to protect ourselves, family, and friends.
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Are you and your loved ones protected?
In today’s world, it seems like a full-time job to protect you and your loved ones from fraud and the many scams out there. Awareness is key. Online dating scams are on the rise. Do you know the signs?
How much are victims losing?
The American Bankers Association Foundation in collaboration with the Federal Trade Commission actually created an infographic on the growing threat of online dating scams. The infographic, available in both English and Spanish, identifies common signs of an online dating scam and offers consumers advice on how to avoid falling victim.
According to the FBI, over $220 million was lost in 2016 to online romance scam artists. Social media networks and dating websites have become increasingly popular tools for meeting and communicating. Unfortunately, some criminals have capitalized on this trend. They often create fake profiles to lure in victims, establish romantic relationships and eventually, extort money.
Victims of all ages
The American Bankers Association Foundation also mentioned that Older Americans, in particular, have been targeted by this type of scam. Sadly, elderly financial abuse is rampant and largely invisible. It’s more common than most people know, and we don’t truly have a grasp on the severity because so much goes unreported. That is partly because it goes undetected -whether that means simply unnoticed or due to medical problems like dementia. It is sometimes partly due to shame and embarrassment of the victims.
How can we fight this crime?
There are resources available to consult with if abuse is a concern. Locally, we have the Senior Resource Center. The SRC contact information for Stephenson and Jo Daviess Counties is (815) 235-9777 Option #4. Consuello A. Pruitt, who is SRC's Adult Protective Services Supervisor/CaseWorker, stated, “Our Mission is to grow by enhancing and developing services and programs that inspire community involvement, offer support and resources, and advocate independence and well-being of all seniors and disabled adults.” You can find out more information about The Senior Resource Center by going to SeniorResourceCenter.net. Click here for information about the Illinois Department on Aging’s Adult Protective Services hotline.
Monica Sandell, Vice President and Compliance Officer at Forreston State Bank, was recently appointed to represent the banking industry on the multi-disciplinary advisory team working with the Adult Protective Services unit of Freeport’s Senior Resource Center.
We try hard as a financial institution to protect our customers from things like this, but unfortunately, there is only so much we can do. Having a second line of defense in the form of sincerely caring family and friends can be very helpful.
It’s important to look for the red flags and take actions. The American Bankers Association (ABA) has some tips for seniors, the signs to look for, and what to do when you see them. This epidemic is under the radar. The cases tend to be very complex and can be difficult to investigate and prosecute. Elders who lose their life savings usually have little or no opportunity to regain what they have lost. It can also result in a decline in health, broken trust, and fractured families.
Awareness is the first step. Planning ahead for financial well-being and the possibility of diminished financial capacity is critical. Reporting and early intervention are vital to preventing loss and recovering loss when possible.
Let’s talk about it. Let’s keep the conversation going. Let’s spread the word and create awareness and let’s help fight this crime and protect our ourselves, family and friends.