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The City Journals

Happy Healthy Holladay Teaches About Financial Fraud

May 05, 2016 12:27PM ● By Kelly Cannon

By Kelly Cannon | [email protected]

Holladay - The Happy Healthy Holladay lecture series held its second session on March 24 with a discussion on how to prevent elderly and vulnerable adult financial fraud. Held at the Holladay Library, the attendees learned not only what to look for in financial fraud but also how to prevent it. 

“There is a growing population that is becoming more vulnerable,” Scott Scharman, a district manager for US Bank in Salt Lake City, said. “Criminals are lazy. These are the groups they are targeting.” 

Scharman explained there are several reasons the elderly are targeted for financial fraud, the biggest being they typically feel isolated. This leads them to not being able to have someone watch out for signs of fraud, and they feel connected to the criminals since they are talking to them. Also, older generations felt it was taboo to talk about money, so they typically don’t discuss their finances with friends and family. Additionally, when they do find out they’ve been the victim of fraud, many of them don’t want to report it.

“People can get embarrassed, and that isolates them even more,” Scharman said. 

Other reasons for not reporting financial fraud is the victims feel they are to blame and emotional or economical dependence on the abuser.

“Unfortunately, most abuse comes from either a relative or a caregiver,” Scharman said. 

The victim may also fear the separation from their home or family, or they might not know their rights or alternatives. 

There are many scams aimed at the elderly. One of these is a fake accident where the victim is accused of hitting someone with their car. The perpetrator convinces the victim to give them cash for the damage instead of getting insurance or the police involved since that could lead to more expensive insurance costs or even having their driver’s license taken away. 

Another popular scam that is specifically targeted toward the elderly is an arrest or accident ploy. Typically how it works is the victim will receive a call, email or letter from someone claiming to be a relative, such as a grandchild. They say they were in an accident and are in the hospital and need money for the bills, or they say they’ve been arrested and need bail money. Scharman said these scams tend to work because it involves the idea of a family member being in trouble. 

“They don’t play to your smarts,” Scharman said. “They play to your emotions.”

Scharman also discussed ways the elderly can protect themselves against fraud. He warned that people should be suspicious if they receive a call, letter or email stating they’ve won money, a prize or a free gift, especially if they’ve never entered a raffle or drawing. People should be suspicious if they are asked to pay a processing fee, shipping or taxes in order to receive the prize.

Scharman also said never to give your full credit card or bank account number over the phone. He explained nearly all banks have a very strict policy against asking for that type of information over the phone. If they need the information, banks will typically ask the user to come into a branch personally and provide the information. 

If a phone call from someone claiming to be a bank, credit card company or utility office does sound legitimate, the best thing to do, according to Schraman, is to hang up and then call the company back using the number you have in your directory, not the number that was used to call you. If it is legitimate, the company will be able to confirm they did place a call and will work to resolve the issue. 

If you suspect fraud, there are several places to report it, including the police, the bank or credit card company, or the fraud department of any of the three credit reporting agencies.

For more information on Happy Healthy Holladay and its upcoming events, visit