SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - Springfield Police say Springfield residents are being targeted by callers who try to cheat them out of their money.
Just in the last few weeks, dozens of people received a threatening phone call, demanding money in exchange for a family member's safe return, but these calls are fake.
It could be a phone call or a text message. A scheme that claims that your family member has been kidnapped or hurt, and if you don't send money, your loved one will be held hostage.
Springfield Police say these callers are lying. You should hang up, but some elderly residents are concerned.
Doug Barnshaw of Springfield told 22News, “People prey on our sympathy, so that's scary.”
A MetLife study found that in 2010, elderly Americans lost about $3 billion to financial fraud.
Now some agencies are clarifying what bank employees can do to help protect seniors' bank accounts.
Several financial agencies released a new guideline. Financial institutions can now report any suspicious activities in older adults' accounts, and that does not violate any privacy laws laid out in the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999.
Jackie Burwell of Springfield said, “I think that would be the smart things to do. Taking out thousands of dollars in a short period of time. That's kind of suspicious.”
Barnshaw told 22News as long it’s only reported to places like the police department or the FBI, he said any suspicious activities should be reported.
“It would make sense to notify somebody. Just who it would be, mechanisms, how to protect that, protect individuals' rights, these are all the things to think about,” he said.
The Federal Department of the Treasury also has a list that families or banks can use to see if someone is being targetd by a financial crime.
Possible signs of financial abuse:
- Erratic or unusual banking transactions
- Change in banking patterns
- Frequent large withdrawals
- Uncharacteristic missing payments for services
- A caregiver or other adult shows excessive interest in the elderly person's account
- The financial institution is unable to speak to the elderly adult directly
- The older adult lacks knowledge of his or her financial status