SPARTANBURG COUNTY, SC (WSPA) – The elderly community is advised to be vigilant after Spartanburg County Sheriff’s deputies uncovered a fraud ring involving 45 victims in assisted living facilities.

“South Carolina is becoming a retirement haven, especially along the coast and in the Upstate,” said AARP SC Communications Director Patrick Cobb.

According to the SC Department on Aging, the state’s senior population will double by the year 2030 to 1.8 million, and more than a third of seniors live on Social Security alone, some as little as $710 per month.

Experts say our elderly neighbors are vulnerable to scams and fraud.

“A lot of times elderly folks are easy prey victims,” Cobb said.

Cobb recommends people freeze their credit history for free with all three reporting agencies.

“Basically it locks down your credit file with that credit reporting agency so if someone were to obtain your number fraudulently or your social security numbers fraudulently and try to open an account or try to do something illegally it would block that account,” Cobb said.

Experts also said to encourage elderly loved ones to have their social security or disability payments directly deposited into their bank accounts, and shred all financial records.

“Especially for folks in assisted living facilities is you don’t want to leave any personal information laying around such as your social security card or driver’s license or a credit card,” said Cobb.

There are also some warning signs of financial exploitation you should know of like unpaid bills piling up, changes to their accounts, or faked signatures.

“It’s a shame that it’s so easy that people can do it but you have to be on guard 24/7,” said Cobb.

Read more about scams targeting seniors.