This is International Fraud Awareness Week, when various companies and nonprofit organizations work to educate people about how to avoid becoming victims of financial fraud. Last year, American consumers lost more than $1.7 billion to financial scams such as identity theft, fraudulent debt collectors, fake lotteries, and counterfeit checks. And that's only what was reported.
According to Steven Baker, director of the Federal Trade Commission's Midwest Region, a few years ago his agency conducted a random telephone survey and discovered that only 8.2% of victims reported complaints. "In other words, 90% don't. And we know that from our own cases that we only have a couple of hundred complaints and it turns out there are thousands [of victims]. If I didn't do this for a living, I'd never believe how much fraud is out there."
The elderly are especially prone to being victimized by fraud. According to Kiplinger, a personal finance and financial forecasting company, one in five Americans over the age of 65 has been taken by a financial swindle.
It's important to know as much as you can about your financial situation to avoid becoming a victim. On Thursday, Kiplinger is coordinating a toll-free nationwide call-in service for people seeking advice. Financial advisers, health care providers, and adult protective services professionals will be on hand to answer your financial, medical and financial abuse questions. It's a good opportunity for you to learn what you can do to protect not only yourself and your family members.
When: Thursday, November 10, 9 a.m to 6 p.m. (ET)
General Financial Questions:(888) 227-1776
Medical Questions:(888) 303-0430
Financial Abuse Questions: (888) 303-3297