A growing crime in the United States is elder financial abuse. As the wealthiest generation thus far, many seniors are being targeted for any number of scams due to the wealth they’ve accumulated throughout their lives. There’s a good chance that you or someone you know has been affected by elder financial abuse or perhaps even you have witnessed family members, co-workers, friends or others trying to take advantage of seniors to get their money.
It’s unfortunately common, but only recently has it been considered a “true” crime. Elder financial abuse is often underreported for any number of reasons, including failing health or memory causing it to seem like too much work for the seniors affected, or it being considered a “family” matter making others reluctant to get involved.
There are many reasons that older adults may be susceptible to fraud. These adults may have disabilities or have to rely on others for care and activities of daily living, or may experience trouble with technology they don’t understand how to use. Any of these things can make someone a target for scams, financial exploitation and fraud.
Despite these threats, there are ways you can help prevent you or your loved ones from having to go through such an experience. There are ways that you can safeguard personal and financial information, as well as educating yourself to be aware of the signs that could mean you or your loved one is getting swindled.
Tips for Seniors: What You Can Do to Protect Yourself from Financial Exploitation
• Plan ahead to protect your assets and ensure your wishes are followed. This could mean talking to an attorney, your banker, or a financial advisor about ways to plan for your financial future.
• Never give anyone your personal information, which includes your SSN, bank account number, or financial information to anyone over the phone or internet unless you initiated the call and the other party can be trusted.
• Consult with an attorney or financial advisor before signing any document you may not understand and have them explain what the documents mean.
• Pay for items with checks or credit cards in order to keep a paper trail of your transactions.
• Never rush into a financial decision.
• Check references and credentials before hiring anyone to do work around your home or help you run errands. Don’t allow workers to have access to information about your finances.
• Remember that you can always say no to someone when they’re trying to sell you something, get personal information, or asking for donations.
• Speak up if something doesn’t seem right and report suspicious people and activities to your nearest law enforcement agency or bank if you are noticing strange withdrawals or purchases on your bank statements.
• Trust your instincts. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Be wary of abusers by making yourself aware of signs of manipulation, forcefulness and paying attention to your gut feelings about people you encounter or are in your life. Don’t be fooled, if something just doesn’t feel right, it may not be right.
These are some great ways to protect yourself from being scammed or taken advantage of financially. If you think something isn’t right, talk to a trusted friend or family member right away if you suspect you may be getting scammed. It’s important to protect yourself and nip these things right in the bud and take precautions right away to prevent a devastating financial loss.
Warning signs to look out for when you think you may be getting scammed or financially exploited:
• Unusual activity in a senior’s bank account including large, frequent or unexplained withdrawals.
• ATM withdrawals from an older adult that may typically not use a debit card.
• New “best friends” accompanying seniors to the bank or on errands.
• Sudden unpaid bills or collection accounts.
• Altered wills or trusts.
• Loss of property or theft.
• A caretaker, relative or friend who suddenly begins conducting financial business or transactions on behalf of an older adult that lacks proper identification.
• New POA’s that the older person doesn’t understand.
Any or all of these warning signs can mean that you are being targeted for scams or other types of financial exploitation and you should contact local authorities right away to have them investigate.
For more tips and ways to protect yourself, click here.
To learn more about financial exploitation and tips, click here.
As your trusted partner in home care, we want to assure you that all of our caregivers are required to submit to a background check and other vetting to ensure you will not be taken advantage of. With our experienced and compassionate caregivers, your loved one will receive only the highest quality of care.
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