Highlights from Episode Five of the Blue Family News Q&A Series
- Learn how officers that desire to move into another profession can translate police language into business language on resumes and in interviews.
- Find out the top mistakes law-enforcement professionals make when applying for jobs in the private sector.
- Recognize how to properly read and understand job postings for open positions.
- Discover the best places online to look for a new career.
- Understand why networking is one of the best strategies when looking for a new career.
- Learn what to do and not to do on social media while searching for a job.
Highlights from Episode Four of the Blue Family News Q&A Series
- Learn why officers should remove some of their personal information online.
- Discover the mistakes many law-enforcement families make on social media.
- Find out ways to protect yourself online.
- Recognize how unscrupulous people can use your posts against you.
- Learn how to think like the bad guys do online.
- Understand what to do with strange texts and emails.
- Discover a few tips on how to protect yourself online.
- Find out how OfficerPrivacy.com protects law-enforcement families online.
Highlights from Episode Three of the Blue Family News Q&A Series
- Understand the best time to start financial planning for college.
- Learn about possible college scholarships.
- Discover ways to catch up on financial planning for college if you got a late start.
- Find out why shared branching might be the most valuable service available to members going to college away from home.
- Discover the variety of student loans available.
- Recognize how to build credit while going to college and why that’s important.
- Find out the online tools to manage your finances while away at college.
- Understand why overdraft protection can be extremely helpful while away at college.
- Remember that if you do make a financial mistake to not be embarrassed and call your credit union for help and advice.
Highlights from Episode Two of the Blue Family News Q&A Series
- Learn about Beyond the Call and how the program focuses on the mitigation, understanding, awareness, and strategies that improve the mental fitness of first responders.
- Realize why mental health deserves the status of high-liability training.
- Understand how trauma not only effects police officers but also the perspective of the communities they serve.
- Discover how law-enforcement professionals can be at their best when those they serve are at their worst.
- Recognize how new police officers can deal with trauma and that of the communities they serve.
- Understand why family members should learn what to look for to support their police officer.
- Realize why officer suicide is preventable.
- Find out why sometimes as a police officer you just need to have a conversation with someone that understands, even anonymously.
- Remember and be proud of the work being done as a police officer.
- Recognize how Going Beyond the Call can save a police officer’s life.
Highlights from Episode One of the Blue Family News Q&A Series
- Learn the work that How2LoveOurCops does for law-enforcement families throughout the country.
- Discover why and how law-enforcement marriages are different from others, especially from the perspective of the police officer’s spouse.
- Realize how many law-enforcement suicides are marked by the end of a marriage.
- Find out what spouses of law-enforcement professionals need to know about their partners.
- Understand why law-enforcement spouses need to find their voice and use it wisely.
- Embrace the idea that the family is usually the early warning system for law-enforcement suicides.
- Learn tips for repairing a law-enforcement marriage, starting with think “We” instead of “Me.”
- Recognize how reviewing and understanding your finances can help relationships.
Top 10 Finance Tips for LEO Families
#1 Start saving early.
You’ll never regret saving. Saving each month in an interest-bearing account will allow your money to grow and compound. The earlier you start saving in your career in law enforcement may mean the less time you will need to work overtime and more time with your family.
The easiest way to save money is to have a set amount automatically deposited into your savings account each pay period. Talk to a professional at Police Federal Credit Union of Omaha on how best to schedule your automatic deposits based upon your unique needs
#2 Spend wisely.
We know this can be easier said than done. However, it’s critical to spend less than you earn. Loans and credit cards can get you through a rough month, but don’t let this become a habit. Ask yourself, “What do I really need?” For example, you may very well need a truck, but that three-year-old used GMC with only 19,000 miles may be exactly what you need instead of that newest model coupled with a monthly payment that blows up your entire budget.
#3 Create a budget.
Yes, this may not be the most fun activity that you do in your off time to unwind, but you’ll thank yourself for it. Not only does it help you to avoid financial crises when an appliance breaks or your roof begins to leak but also allows you to plan for enjoyable events like vacations so that you don’t feel like you are missing out. There are a number of budget apps and programs out there. Talk to a professional at Police FCU of Omaha, and we’ll be happy to steer you in the right direction.
#4 Minimize debt.
Keep debt to a minimum so you can make monthly on-time payments. If you find you have trouble making on-time monthly payments, please seek help. Sometimes even the best of us can get into unexpected trouble. Sometimes life just happens. Police Federal Credit Union of Omaha is a financial partner you can depend on. If you are running into trouble, the sooner you come to us, the more we are likely able to do to help you.
#5 Diversification is key.
If you have already been following tip #1, you want to make your money work for you. Financial diversification is a strategy designed to reduce risk. Be sure to consult with your financial advisor and verify that you have been taking advantage of the proper financial vehicles for your age, risk level, and family needs.
#6 Review your insurance coverage.
There’s no question that a career in law enforcement can put us in harm’s way. Make sure you and your family are covered if there is an unfortunate event. Police Federal Credit Union of Omaha offers multiple insurance products, including Line-of Duty Death Insurance, for specific loans. Review all of your insurance coverages annually to verify that you are properly insured.
#7 Financial education is always important.
Knowledge is power. It’s important to stay current on all the latest financial topics. This doesn’t mean you need to have a Wall Street Journal tucked under your arm when you are walking into the department for your shift. However, realizing that ultimately you are responsible for your financial future creates a healthy perspective. Financial institutions, like you Police Federal Credit Union of Omaha, are resources for you. So, choose a partner that understands the banking needs of law enforcement and their families.
#8 Monitor your credit report.
Annually check your credit report for errors and monitor your credit score. You can get a free annual credit report by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com. There are also a number of services where you can check your credit on a monthly basis. Being diligent may alert you to issues before they become a major problem.
#9 Protect your identity.
Monitoring your credit and protecting your identity go hand in hand. When choosing ID theft protection, be careful not to simply use the equivalent of a smoke alarm that simply warns you that there is a problem. You want a fire extinguisher to help you to snuff out those issues. The latter is exactly what you receive when you open a Premium Checking Account with Police Federal Credit Union of Omaha.
#10 Schedule an annual financial review.
Reviewing all aspects of your finances on an annual basis can keep you on track. That’s why Police Federal Credit Union of Omaha is happy to conduct a Blue Review of your finances to guide you into the future. We are first and foremost a passionate financial-services provider to law enforcement and their families. We are proud to be a part of Your Blue Family and are always happy to assist you.
Protecting the Older People in Our Lives from Becoming Victims of Scams
In the last two decades, the over-65 population of the world has greatly increased, and so has the average life expectancy. In the same period, there have been dramatic advances in technology and a surge in the number of technological devices in most homes. A January 2022 Pew Research study found that 75% of adults over 65 in the United States use the internet regularly. Unfortunately, this increased use of technology brings a heightened risk of fraud for all Americans. In this article, we will address the most prevalent scams targeting our senior citizens and provide simple advice on protecting yourself and your elderly loved ones.
Why do Scammers target Older Americans?
Healthy and ailing seniors are equally targeted, as scammers repeatedly go after the life savings of the older generation. According to the Federal Reserve, at the end of Q1 of 2022, Americans aged 55 and up controlled 67.7% of all the wealth in the U.S. while representing only 21% of the population. Scammers take advantage of seniors’ lack of experience and knowledge about computers and cybersecurity.
Why Many Scams Against Seniors Go Unreported
Falling for a scam is often a source of embarrassment for older Americans as they and their loved ones may see this event as a sign of cognitive decline. But falling prey to these scams shouldn’t be a source of embarrassment, as the individuals committing these acts of fraud are highly trained experts. They successfully target people of all ages and economic and educational backgrounds. These professional criminals know what to say and how to sound incredibly convincing while adding a sense of urgency that the claim they are making must be handled immediately to avoid financial ruin. Even so, the elderly population falling victim to a scam is more likely to go unreported out of embarrassment, shame, fear, or simply not realizing that a crime has been committed. The real numbers are likely even higher because many of these thefts go unreported out of shame or lack of awareness that a crime has occurred. Unfortunately, the average amount people lose in a single scam increases with age but ranges from $600 to $1,600. This is only an average. Many higher-value scams have also been reported, upwards of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Most Common Scams Targeting Seniors
According to a recent National Council on Aging (NCOA) report, scams targeting older adults are rising. In 2021, there were 92,371 older victims of fraud, resulting in $1.7 billion in losses. The five most common scams are summarized below, along with what to do to protect yourself and the seniors in your life.
- Government Impersonation Scams
If you receive a call from someone claiming to be from a government agency, such as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Social Security Administration, or Medicare, be wary. Impersonators will attempt to convince you that they are acting on behalf of a legitimate agency. Never give out personal information on the phone or online when you receive a call. Hang up and call back at a published number for the agency, not a number provided to you by the caller. The impersonator may use intimidation tactics to scare you, such as saying that you owe taxes, threatening to seize your assets, or sending you to jail if you don’t act quickly. They may threaten to cut off your social security or medical benefits. Don’t be fooled. They are trying to get you to respond at the moment. A legitimate agency will never use these tactics. Remember, when in doubt… CHECK IT OUT. A legitimate government agency representative will understand if you state that you will call back to verify that this information is correct and not a fraud.
- Sweepstakes and Prize Scams
With the lure and excitement of winning something valuable, many victims willingly enter their bank account details to “validate their account” to receive the prize, only to find out later that funds have been removed from their account rather than added to it. Some scammers invoke the name of well-known prize organizations, like Publishers Clearing House, to instill trust, then ask for a credit card number or personal information, all intending to commit identity theft. Vacation scams might indicate a deep discount on a property that either doesn’t exist or isn’t owned by the person listing it. These offers will often stress the urgency of making a down payment immediately to lock in the discounted price. Once victims fall prey to the scam, they may receive multiple requests for information or money from the fraudsters over months or even years.
- Robo Call Scams
Robocalls take advantage of phone technology to simultaneously call thousands of phone numbers, hoping to find that one caller that will hold on the line long enough for a scammer to pick up the call. The robocall that everyone knows well is the expiring car warranty. These types of calls continue because they work based on the number of calls made across the country. If a person, in particular, an elder American, actually takes this call, they may purchase unwanted and unneeded items or worse. Criminals also use these robocalls to phish for personal information using a variety of pretenses. One very simple and dangerous technique used by scammers is the “Can you hear me?” scam. In this scam, the caller starts the conversation by saying, “Can you hear me?” They record the older person saying “yes.” The scammer convinces the elderly person to provide a credit card number, whether it’s a phony product or an intimidation scheme, claiming an “impending lawsuit” or fines from a government agency or police. If the senior objects to the charges, the scammer can use the recorded “yes” to state that the elder “consented” to the charges.
- Computer Tech Support Scams
Whether a website pop-up, an email, or a phone call, Tech Support scams are an effective way to dupe unsuspecting people into providing confidential information, credit card information, and, worse, remote control to their computer. Older citizens who may lack knowledge about computers and cybersecurity are particularly vulnerable to this scam, which goes like this. A pop-up message or blank screen on a computer or phone telling the victim their device is damaged and needs an urgent fix or data, especially precious photos, could be lost forever. When the victim calls the provided support number for help, the scammer will try to gather as much information as they can, which will help them commit other forms of fraud or identity theft. The cybercriminal may also request remote access to the older person’s computer, allowing access to credit card and bank account information. The fraudster may claim a small fee for the service, not much so that it does not set off any alerts, but the real prize is the credit card number provided for the payment, which can be used for additional fraudulent transactions later. According to the FBI’s 2021 Elder Fraud Report, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) fielded 13,900 tech support fraud complaints from older victims who suffered nearly $238 million in losses.
- The Grandparent Scam
Many Americans over the age of 55 have grandchildren. As a person approaches age 70 and up, those grandchildren may be teenagers or young adults. This is a predictable audience for perpetrators of The Grandparent Scam. A caller may start the call with an urgent or upset tone, saying, “Hi, Grandpa, do you know who this is?” This question instantly lowers defenses, implying that this must be someone you know. If an unaware grandparent says the name of a grandchild, the scammer will confirm, instantly securing their trust. “Is this Billy?” “Yes, it’s Billy, Grandpa. I’m in trouble.” The scammer will ask for money for urgent financial needs like a disabled vehicle, school loans, or jail bond. The criminal will ask that the grandparent pays via gift cards or money transfer so they can access the money and remain anonymous. In other versions of this scam, the caller may pretend that they are an arresting officer or lawyer, even going so far as pretending to be a courier hired by the grandchild and going to the home of the elder to pick up cash or cards.
While these five scams are the most prevalent, they are not the end of the line.
Other Scams to Watch Out For
- Counterfeit Prescription Drugs, COVID Prevention, and Fake Anti-Aging Products. These prevalent online scams are useful to criminals to gather credit card and other personal information of unsuspecting seniors by selling substandard or ineffective treatments, which is not only a financial risk but also a health risk.
- Fake Employment Opportunities. NCOA states that Over 15 million (or roughly 1 in 3) older adults aged 65+ are economically insecure, with an average annual income of only $25,760. In addition, these seniors may see a need to help other family members with their financial challenges. These situations make the elderly susceptible to fake “work from home” scams. The purpose of this scam is to gain the personal information of the senior, especially their Social Security number, which the scammer can sell on the black market or use for identity theft, further complicating the victim’s financial woes.
- Sweetheart Scams. Those who have recently lost a spouse or are isolated due to medical concerns or other circumstances are especially vulnerable to people seeking to form a bond through friendship or romance. Unfortunately, heartless and unscrupulous scammers know this as well. People you meet on the internet could have a long-term motive (a year or more) to gain the trust and access to the savings of unsuspecting seniors. People 70+ years of age experience the highest incidence, with an average loss per victim of almost $10,000.
How Can You Better Protect Yourself and Your Loved One? Follow these tips from the FBI.
- Recognize scam attempts and end all communication with the perpetrator.
- Search online for the proposed offer’s contact information (name, email, phone number, addresses). Other people have likely posted information about individuals and businesses trying to run scams online.
- Resist the pressure to act quickly. Scammers create a sense of urgency to produce fear and lure victims into immediate action. Call the police immediately if you feel yourself or a loved one is in danger.
- Be cautious of unsolicited phone calls, mailings, and door-to-door service offers.
- Never give or send any personally identifiable information, money, jewelry, gift cards, checks, or wire information to unverified people or businesses.
- Ensure all computer anti-virus, security software, and malware protections are up to date. Use reputable anti-virus software and firewalls.
- Disconnect from the internet and shut down your device if you see a pop-up message or locked screen. Perpetrators regularly use pop-ups to spread malicious software. Enable pop-up blockers to avoid accidentally clicking on one.
- Be careful what you download. For example, never open an email attachment from someone you don’t know, and be wary of email attachments forwarded to you.
- Protect your identity if a criminal gains access to your device or account. Immediately contact your financial institutions to place protections on your accounts, and monitor your accounts and personal information for suspicious activity.
How Can You Protect Your Loved Ones?
- Keep your elderly family members and friends up to date about scams circulating online.
- Ensure that a trusted family member or financial advisor monitors loved ones’ bank and retirement accounts, watching for suspicious withdrawals.
- Stay in touch! Regular visits and phone calls will keep you connected with your loved ones, lessening their chance of falling victim to a scam that targets those who feel isolated. In addition, your family member might mention a strange email, a new way to get their medicine, or sweepstakes they have entered – all of these are red flags.
- Share articles like this with them and others who help with caregiving needs. Staying current about what techniques scammers are using is the best form of protection.
As mentioned, a primary or secondary motive in these scams is collecting personal information that the criminal or others later use to commit identity theft. If you feel that you or an elderly family member has fallen victim to identity theft, call us immediately to speak to one of our Identity Theft Recovery Advocates. Quickly recognizing and addressing the issue will minimize damage to your accounts and identity. In addition, Premier Checking Account holders have access to specialists around the clock who can answer your questions, address your concerns, and advise you on the best next steps to get back on track.
Unemployment Fraud: How it Works and How to Fight It.
Unemployment Fraud: How it Works and How to Fight It.
Across the nation, identity thieves are exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic by committing Unemployment Benefits Fraud, which is filing for and collecting unemployment benefits fraudulently by using the identity of someone still employed. This type of scam is very difficult to detect. Sometimes the employer is the first one to know that a scam has taken place by receiving a notice of an unemployment claim from employees who are still very much employed.
Let’s take a quick look at how this scam works. It is important to know how to react quickly to minimize the damage.
Fraudulent claims of unemployment are rampant. States’ unemployment offices across the nation have been targeted for fraudulent claims of unemployment even before the pandemic began, but the activity level has drastically increased over the last year to the point that it is the number one type of identity theft issue reported. Fraudsters are counting on the fact that the unemployment office is overwhelmed with claims, and the state is trying to minimize the financial impact of the pandemic on suffering citizens by processing the claims more readily than it might in the past. If criminals flood a particular state with bogus claims, pressure mounts to move documents through the process, and that just makes it easier for fraudulent attempts to get approved.