Seniors now target of fraud, identity theft

by Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Posted at Oct 21 2011 04:16 PM | Updated as of Oct 22 2011 12:16 AM

LOS ANGELES - A few years ago, 84-year-old Jack Vergara was surprised to find that money was being withdrawn from his bank account without his knowledge. In less than a week, he lost over a hundred dollars.
"Bakit yung aking checking (account) mayroon mga withdrawal na hindi naman sa akin? Sa isang araw $35, then yung susunod $40, hanggang naubos yung pera ko,” said Vegara, a World War II veteran.
The Asian Pacific American Dispute Resolution Center said seniors, especially elderly immigrants, are the most vulnerable victims of fraud and identity theft.
Women earning less than $10,000 a year are the most vulnerable.
Jesse Del Rosario, 77, thought his old credit card was no longer activated until someone used it without his knowledge.
"Somebody used it at pagka-tapos sinisingil na ako ngayon. Hindi ko naman utang yun hindi ko na gamit yun at yung card na yan wala sa akin,” said Del Rosario. 
Advocates said they discovered that many of the problems stem from language barriers and that seniors may misunderstand the fees and payments written on some banking contracts.
Though the issue was resolved at the bank, Vergara said he never found out how he lost over a hundred dollars. Because of the incident, he keeps most of his money as cash.
As for Del Rosario, he never figured out who tried to use his card either, but he remains vigilant now and keeps a keener eye on his finances.