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Arizona Civil Legal Needs Community Survey

Civil legal organizations in Arizona are seeking your input to increase their ability to meet the civil legal needs of Arizona's lower income residents. Please complete this survey to assist in improving civil legal services in Arizona.

Encuesta de Necesidades Legales Civiles de Arizona

Las organizaciones legales civiles en Arizona buscan su opinión para aumentar su capacidad de satisfacer las necesidades legales civiles de los residentes de bajos ingresos de Arizona. Por favor complete esta encuesta para ayudar a mejorar los servicios legales civiles en Arizona.

Money and Debt

Financial Fraud and Scams

Each year, more than 100,000 older Americans are victims of some type of financial fraud. The FBI estimates that seniors lose more than $3 billion each year to financial fraud and scams. These crimes cause financial insecurity and put seniors in a vulnerable position.

It is important for seniors and their loved ones to know how to identify and respond to common scams and fraudulent schemes.

What is financial fraud?

Financial fraud, commonly referred to as “scams”, happen when someone misleads or deceives you to take your money, property, and/or personal data. These types of scams can happen on the internet, by telephone, by mail, or in person.

Some of the most common frauds and scams that target older people include:

Confidence Fraud/Romance – Romance scammers often go to great lengths to trick you by creating detailed online profiles, often on social media, pretending to in love with their target. In some situations, romance scammers may pretend to be oversees and need money to pay for travel expenses, visas, or medical emergencies.

Government Impersonator – Scammers will call or email victims and pretend to be a representative from the Social Security Administration, Internal Revenue Service, Treasury Department, or Medicare. Scammers may say you owe money on taxes, threaten to arrest you, say your benefits will be cut off if you don’t provide personal information.

Sweepstakes/Lottery/Inheritance – Scammers say you have won a lottery/prize or that you’ve inherited money or property but you must pay a processing fee to collect. Often, the victim will receive a realistic looking check they can deposit, and, after a few days, the fake check is rejected by the bank.

Health & Insurance – In these types of scams, perpetrators may pose as a representative from Medicare to get older people to share their personal information or offer fake services or health products in order to bill Medicare and keep the money.

Charity – Scammers create a fake charity and collect donations from unsuspecting people, often after a tragedy or disaster. The donations collected never go to the cause but into the scammer’s pocket.

Computer/Technology Support – In these types of scams, perpetrators try to catch people with limited knowledge about computers. These scams might be pop-up messages on a computer or phone saying the device has a virus and needs to be fixed. Scammers may provide a telephone number to call where the scammer will request access to the computer or a fee to fix the device.

Emergency/Grandparent – In these types of scams, perpetrators call an older person and pretend to be a grandchild. They might say “Grandma, do you know who this is?” when the older person answers the phone. Once knowing a name, scammers create an emergency situation (needs to get out of jail, repair a car, pay rent, or medical crisis) to ask for money, begging the older person not to let anyone else know.

Products/Purchases – Scammers use false promises to get someone to buy products, invest money, or get free products. Scammers create fake advertisements for products on social media or use telephone calls to sell a product such as an extended warranty. Often, scammers will use the credit card or banking information to charge for the product or service multiple times.

How does financial fraud happen?

Financial fraud, or scams, can happen on the internet, through email, over the telephone, or in person. Some scammers may use more than one method to convince someone to part with their money or personal data. Some of the most common methods used by scammers include:

Robocalls/Telephone Calls – Robocalls are unwanted telephone calls that use auto-dialing programs to send pre-recorded messages. Some robocalls might “spoof” or mask their telephone number to appear as if the call is coming from a legitimate organization or government office.

Internet/Email/Text Messages – Emails, text messages, and websites may appear as though they are from a person or company you trust but are designed to trick you into providing personal data, clicking on a link, or downloading an attachment. Often referred to as “phishing”, these communications may look like they are from a credit card company, computer software or anti-virus service, an online store, or from someone you know. Websites may have pop-up browser windows with advertisements for fake products or warnings that the computer’s antivirus software is out of date. Clicking on a link or opening an attachment via email or text often downloads a virus that compromises your personal data.

Personal Relationships – Unlike other financial fraud crimes, elder financial abuse is usually committed by someone the older person knows – like a family member, caretaker, power of attorney, or friend. People who commit elder financial abuse try to gain control of an older person’s property (like a home or vehicle), money (checking/savings accounts or investment/retirement accounts) and credit.

How do I report financial fraud?

Being the victim of financial fraud might feel embarrassing, but you are not alone. There are many people, organizations, and resources ready to help seniors impacted by financial fraud. If you or someone you care about has been the victim of a scam, it is important to report the fraud to authorities or your bank (if money has been removed from your accounts) right away. Taking the following steps may help stop fraudulent activity:

  1. Stop all payments of money to the scammer.
  2. Gather all related information and documents that have evidence of the fraud. This might include copies of bank statements, screenshots of online profiles or websites, phone numbers used to call them, receipts or statements, record of other payment types such as cancelled checks, wire transfer or money order receipts.
  3. Report the fraud to authorities.
    • Notify your bank or credit card company of the fraud or scam. The bank or credit card company may ask you to file a police report with your local law enforcement agency.
    • If the fraud occurred in your community, make a report to your local law enforcement agency. A police report may be needed to file an insurance claim for fraud losses or reinstate funds by a bank or credit card company.
    • File a consumer complaint with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office.
    • Report the fraud or scam to the Federal Trade Commission at.
  4. Protect your identity and accounts. If you provided account or personal data to the scammer, you’ll want to take steps to block access to your accounts and protect against identity theft. This can be done by changing all account passwords and Personal Identification Numbers (PINs). For more information on Identity Theft, visit

What can I do to protect myself from financial fraud?

Scammers are very, very good at what they do and always seem to be creating new and different ways to scam people out of their money. Fraud and security experts recommend simple ways to help protect yourself from fraud: 

  • Be aware of what scams exist. The Federal Trade Commission provides consumers with up-to-date information about scams and how to spot a scammer.
  • Guard your personal or financial information. Beware of requests for any personal or financial information you are not expecting. Real organizations like government agencies or banks will not call, email, or text you for your personal or identifying information like your account number, passwords, PIN, or social security number.
  • Verify the individual or organization. If you receive an email or text message from a company you know and you think its real, its best to not click on any links or open any attachments. Try contacting them using a website you trust or look up their phone number to contact them directly.
  • Get any agreements, contracts, or promises in writing. Know that a written agreement is binding, and usually there is no right to cancel.
  • Talk to someone you trust. Before you send money, provide information, or share private details about your life – tell someone (a friend, family member, neighbor) what happened. Getting a second opinion from someone you know and trust is a good way to spot scams.


This website has been prepared for general information purposes only. The information on this website is not legal advice. Legal advice is dependent upon the specific circumstances of each situation. Also, the law may vary from state-to-state or county-to-county, so that some information in this website may not be correct for your situation. Finally, the information contained on this website is not guaranteed to be up to date. Therefore, the information contained in this website cannot replace the advice of competent legal counsel licensed in your jurisdiction.