Many people have been the target of a scam at one point or another, but, the senior citizen community is especially vulnerable. While a loss of finances is hard for anyone, the senior citizen community faces a particularly difficult challenge in that the loss may impact them more significantly. It’s not always easy or quick to make up the financial loss when one has been the subject of a scam, fraud or exploitation. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau CFPB, in an AARP article, the losses experienced by seniors reach $2.6 billion to $36.5 billion a year. While the government is cracking down on this type of crime, it is up to each of us to be proactive and know what to look out for

Get involved with your bank

Remaining proactive and in contact with your bank is an excellent way to ensure your finances stay put. Your bank should be monitoring any activity and be able to stop or flag suspicious activities. Your banker can be a great asset in preventing any financial mishaps.

Never give out bank account information

This may seem like a no-brainer but these scammers are smart. They prey on an older individual’s emotions to gain access to accounts. They will call with ploys such as saying that they are with the IRS, or that your grandson is stranded and needs help. The IRS will never call, they send letters. If your grandchild is really in trouble, hang up and try calling their cellphone. Keep your social security number and bank account information to yourself.

Check your credit score

Checking your credit score annually is a great way to ensure everything is kosher and no one has taken out any loans, credit cards, etc. in your name.

Stay in contact with your family and friends

May seem like silly advice but staying in touch with family is a great way to make sure no one is taking advantage of you. That does include family members. A 2014 study published by the National Institutes of Health found that as many as 60% of financial crimes against senior citizens are committed by family members. Ensuring there is consistent communication with multiple friends and family is an excellent way to prevent someone from taking advantage of you.

Keep a paper trail

Paying with checks and credit cards instead of cash when purchasing services is another savvy move to keep track of where the money goes. When you have a paper trail of everything, it is easier to prevent anyone from taking advantage.

Just say no

Remember, you worked hard your whole life for the things you have so it’s okay to say no. You can tell your family members, friends, etc. “No.” Don’t put yourself into a financial strain to help others.

While financial abuse is more common than ever, it is up to each of us to not fall victim. If you are a victim of a financial scam or abuse, report it. You can’t get your money back or stop the perpetrator if you never report the crime.