As your loved ones get older, there are inherent risks associated with them living alone or with others who may seek to exploit them. Unfortunately, with age comes a decrease in the ability to physically conduct specific tasks due to disability or illness, but also a reduction in the ability to keep up in a fast-paced world. Many older adults fall victim to scams and abuse due to their trusting nature and need for assistance in many aspects of their lives. One form of abuse that many seniors fall victim to is financial abuse.
Financial abuse can manifest in many ways, but may include activities such as investment scams, fake lottery winnings, identity theft, credit card fraud, or check forgery. Last year alone, it was estimated that financial abuse cost seniors $2.9 billion. These types of crimes are particularly heinous because they rob seniors of their resources and retirement funds, often leaving them penniless or without the ability to properly care for themselves financially throughout their elder years.
If you are a caregiver or family member of a loved one who is elderly, here are some things to pay attention to in order to help your loved one avoid financial abuse.
Pay Attention to These Signs of Potential Financial Abuse
- If your loved one has developed any new friendships with people who have convinced them to make investments, be cautious of the nature of these associations. Calmly speak to your loved one about the validity of the investments.
- Pay attention if someone close to your loved one, such as someone who may live with them, has a sudden change in lifestyle. Older adults may sometimes fall victim to check forgery or bank fraud and it could be happening under their own roof.
- If your loved one will let you go over finances and their bank account information with them, check for any unusual activity, especially withdraws. It may be hard to get them to show you scandalous activity, but pay attention to any of their financial habits that may seem to change, or if they begin to write a number of checks as “gifts” to friends and family.
- Look for unpaid bills or invoices for unsolicited services. Many times older people may fall victim to fraud by signing up for unnecessary services around the home. Make sure that a trusted family member is always present when large contracts are signed.
Tips for Avoiding Financial Abuse
- If you are your loved one’s trusted family member, make sure to go over finances with them on a regular basis. Monitor accounts and ask for a credit report once a year.
- Ensure that you consult with a trusted advisor, whether financial or legal, when it comes to large purchases and services. Check the validity of any vendors offering services.
- Help your loved one understand that they should never give sensitive information, such as credit card numbers or social security numbers, over the phone to anyone they did not initiate a call with, regardless of who the person says they are.
- Never pay a fee for “lottery winnings” or any other kind of sweepstakes winnings.
- Keep all sensitive financial information in a safe place and do not allow anyone access to it unless they are a proven trusted relationship.
Often, financial abuse goes unreported because seniors are embarrassed or are unsure of what is happening. If you feel that your loved one has been threatened or intimidated for their financial resources, contact the Adult Protective Services in their area. If you see that any fraud has occurred, contact law enforcement.
If you feel that your elderly loved one would benefit from in-home assistance in the form of a trusted companion or nursing care, contact us at 24/7 Nursing Care. Our staff members are trained and vetted to be reliable short-term or long-term companions in the comfort of your loved one’s own home.
Wang, P. (n.d.). New Ways to Prevent Elder Financial Abuse. Retrieved from https://www.consumerreports.org/elder-fraud/new-ways-to-prevent-elder-financial-abuse/
Protecting the Elderly From Financial Abuse. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.aba.com/consumers/pages/protectingtheelderly.aspx
Khalfani-Cox, L. (n.d.). Warning Signs of Financial Fraud and Abuse A