On average, at least 1 out of every 10 elderly people within the United States became a victim to fraud within the past year. In total, there are approximately 8 million cases of fraud among the elderly each year. The losses incurred as a result of fraud among the elderly total approximately $270 billion a year. If you have an elderly loved one that you are concerned will be exploited in a financial manner, it is imperative that you continue reading this guide. Here, you will learn sound steps on how to protect the elderly against financial fraud.
Elder Fraud and Elder Financial Exploitation
Elder fraud is a specific act or acts that target an older person where attempts are engaged in that are made to purposefully deceive with a backed promise of certain goods, certain services, and/or financial-based benefits that do not, in fact, even exist. These were never intended to be given to the older person or were misrepresented in one way or another. Financial fraud is often referred to as “financial abuse”.
Financial-based exploitation of an elder individual is to the improper or the illegal usage of that person’s property or the money that they have. Most instances occur when family members and/or caregivers manage an elderly person’s income, their bank, and/or various other assets. Other types of financial exploitation comes when other situations arise such as theft, unauthorized transactions, fraud, investment scams, consumer fraud, and contractor scams.
Warning Signs That Financial Exploitation is Occurring
There are many signs that financial exploitation may be occurring. To prevent financial fraud from occurring, you must learn the warning signs that it is happening. The following outlines the most common:
- An older adult may add another person’s name on their bank account and the debit card associated with that account.
- A provision may be made for services for the older adult that are not deemed “necessary”.
- There may be unusual changes made in a will and/or other types of financial-based documents.
- Changes that are sudden may be experienced in an older adult’s bank account or unusual bank practices may occur. An example of this is that there is a withdrawal of a large sum of money by a person that is with the elderly individual or the elderly individual starts to make withdrawals all of a sudden.
- A person other than the elderly person may start to make unauthorized withdrawals from an older adult’s bank utilizing the ATM or debit card associated with the account.
- You may find that the valuables or the funds of an older person become missing and there is no reasonable explanation.
- Despite being able to pay their bills based on the amount of income that they have; you may find that bills are being left unpaid.
- You may discover documentation that has forged signatures. Examples include titles of possessions and documentations pertaining to financial transactions.
- Relatives and friends that have been relatively uninvolved may suddenly show up and claim that they have a right to the individual’s belongings and/or property.
- Withdrawals pulled from an account that was previously inactive may occur if financial fraud or abuse is occurring.
- You may discover that the person’s credit card bills are showing new charges.
- CDs, life insurance policies, and other financial assets and/or accounts may be closed or cashed out without regards to the penalties and/or consequences of such actions.
- You may find that checks are being written to someone as a “gift”, “tip”, or “loan”.
- You may discover that certain types of mail are no longer arriving through the mail or through your loved one’s email. These include credit card statements, bank statements, and similar types of documents.
- New Powers of Attorney may be put into place that the individual does not understand.
- Another red flag may be that you notice someone – such as a neighbor, a friend, caregiver, relative, etc. – starts conducting financial matters on behalf of your loved one but that they do not have the documentation in place to do this.
Steps to Protect the Elderly
In addition to learning how to identify elder fraud and financial abuse, there are other steps to protecting the elderly against these situations. They are as follows:
- First, you should practice caution when it comes to a Power of Attorney. This is a type of legal document that authorizes a specific person to transact various types of business on the behalf of someone. You must be sure if a person is named for an elderly loved one that they are trustworthy.
- Financial information for an elderly loved one must be guarded at all times. This means that account numbers, PINS, passwords, the Social Security number, and other types of sensitive information should be properly protected. Keep it in a safe location. Shred documents with sensitive information.
- Educate the elderly loved one on the types of scams that exist and inform them NOT to partake in them. Examples of these scams include winning the lotto, a demand for taxes, grandparent scams, Medicare scams, home repair scams, charity scams, tech support scams, internet fraud, distraction scams, and funeral scams.
- To protect your older loved one, always make it a point to monitor the statements from their bank and any and all credit cards that they have. Look for transactions that were not authorized and those that look suspicious. If any are discovered, report them immediately.
- You should order a free credit report once a year for your loved one. Make certain that all of the information is accurate and is complete. If you do not recognize companies listed, make an inquiry and report it to the credit reporting agency.
- Instruct your loved one not to take part in any reverse mortgage scams. This is a type of loan that may be taken out against the equity of a home by someone 62 years old and older. Once the person passes, the mortgage company will then take possession of the property – even if the spouse remains. This should be avoided altogether.
- If your older loved one uses social media, they should be advised not to post names, residential addresses, birthdays, jobs, and other daily activities associated with loved ones. Not only can this result in identify theft, it can also result in the information being used in other scams.
- Your older loved one should be told to never fulfill a request for a stranger to deposit a check into their bank account and have them wire some of it back.
- You should make certain the home phone and/or cell phone of your older loved one is placed on the Do Not Call Registry. This will help in reducing the amount of telemarketer calls that the individual receives; therefore, reducing the possibility of being scammed.
- If a professional has to be hired, be sure your loved one does so carefully. The background and reputation should be reviewed. They should be registered, licensed, and insured. You may contact the Attorney General of the state where the elderly loved one resides for more information.
We here at Somerville Bank take great strides to protect each of our clients. If you want a bank you can trust with your financial livelihood or that of an elderly loved one, please contact us today. We offer various types of accounts, loans, and more. We go to great lengths to protect your identity and your finances. If you would like to learn more, contact us now at: https://somervillebank.net/locations/
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