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According to the Senate Special Committee on Aging, older adults lose an estimated $2.9 billion annually to fraudulent scams. May was Older Americans Month, a time to call attention to the rising threat of fraud to older Americans. It is important that we share information on how to stay vigilant against scams and safeguard the financial security of older adults.

Fraud threats targeting older adults present a significant and escalating problem, demanding heightened awareness and preventive measures. According to the FBI Elder Fraud Report, older adults are increasingly falling victim to scams, with a reported 101,068 victims over the age of 60 in 2023. Artificial intelligence technology has only exacerbated the sophistication and success rates of fraudulent activities, amplifying the need for swift action to protect our seniors’ financial well-being.

As a community bank, IBC Bank is deeply committed to the financial security of our customers, particularly our older customers who have been increasingly targeted by fraudsters. The prevalence of financial fraud targeting seniors is not just a statistic, it’s a sobering reality that demands our attention and action. In this age of technological advancement and evolving financial scams, it’s incumbent upon all of us to take proactive measures to safeguard our most vulnerable community members.

IBC Bank on June 19, 2020, in McAllen. (Delcia Lopez | [email protected])

As part of our ongoing commitment to customer protection, IBC Bank continuously monitors emerging fraud tactics and immediately informs our clients on what to look for and how to combat fraud. On Older Americans Month we intensified our efforts to raise awareness among seniors about prevalent scams. By arming them with the necessary information and resources, we can empower our older customers to identify and thwart fraudulent schemes.

Email was the top contact method for scammers last year, though they can also reach you through phone calls, texts, social media or pop-up ads. Fraudsters will make elaborate efforts to impersonate a trustworthy source such as the government, your bank, a company or even someone you know.

AI technology has made it even easier to convincingly impersonate someone you’re familiar with using tools such as altered voices. They may be offering a sale online, claiming you won a prize or sweepstake, offering a lucrative investment opportunity or even a job or business opportunity.

Fraudsters may create alarm by using tactics that claim you owe money, such as an overdue utility bill, fee or a person needing a loan immediately. Any entity that reaches out to you and asks for money should be evaluated with a healthy amount of skepticism. We recommend that customers contact their financial institutions directly if they ever receive communications regarding their banking information they are unsure about.

Together, we can proactively prevent fraudulent activity and support our older adults. By coordinating efforts and advocating for policies that prioritize the protection of seniors, we can amplify our impact and create a safer environment for our elderly population.

Al Villarreal is the president and CEO of IBC Bank — Brownsville and Adrian Villarreal is the president and CEO of IBC Bank — McAllen.

Al Villarreal
Adrian Villarreal