Consumer Connection: Discussing Scams and Fraud with Your Family Members over the Holidays
|By Sonya Sellmeyer, Consumer Advocacy Officer for the Iowa Insurance Division
This holiday season, Iowans will gather with loved ones making it a great time for discussions about financial fraud to help prevent those you care about from becoming victims. The Iowa Insurance Division’s Iowa Fraud Fighters program focuses on fraud against elder Iowans, but younger Iowans are also falling victim to scams at a higher rate than ever before. Fraud prevention firm SEON analyzed data collected in 2020 by the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) and found fraud complaints from consumers under the age of 20 had the largest increase in 2019 and 2020. Victims under 20 had collective losses of approximately $3,000 per person. The report also found that the older the victim, the more money they lost. This finding may be due to older Americans having more assets than our younger consumers. Fraudsters do not discriminate when it comes to age.
Consumers of all ages should know these tips to prevent being scammed:
What can you do if you suspect fraud:
If a bank account or credit card is involved, notify the fraud department right away. Don’t engage or pay the scammer any money or provide them any personal information. Another good step to take is to freeze your credit.
If you suspect a problem with your computer, update your computer’s security software and run a scan or take the computer to a local repair center.
Report fraud to the appropriate authorities, and document what happened while it is still fresh in your mind. Insurance and investment fraud should be reported to the Iowa Insurance Division at 877-955-1212. Medicare scams may be reported to Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) at 800-351-4664. Consumer scams may be reported to the Iowa Attorney General’s Office at 888-777-4590. If money has been lost, file a report with local law enforcement too.
Discuss these fraud prevention tips with all your family members this holiday season. If your loved ones need further guidance, the Iowa Insurance Division is here to help. Ensuring all Iowans aren’t alone when making decisions in this very serious area is one of the best gifts you can provide your loved ones this holiday season.