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Preventing Elder Financial Abuse

What is financial elder abuse?

Elder financial abuse is the illegal or improper use of a vulnerable adult’s funds or property for another person’s profit or advantage. According to Nursing Home Abuse Center, elder financial abuse comes in all forms including identity theft, debit or credit card use, lottery scams, internet scams, and many more. Abusers can include caregivers, family, or strangers. According to the National Council On Aging, 60 percent of elder abuse is done by a family member.

Who’s at risk?

Seniors who suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s or are socially isolated are popular targets. According to the World Health Organization, there are high rates of elder abuse in nursing homes & long-term care facilities. Some studies suggest that your financial literacy declines as you age so it’s important to know the red flags and scams when it comes to elder financial abuse.

If you’re a senior or care for one, check out the reg flags, scams, and tips below to protect yourself from financial abuse.

Red Flags:

Stops attending outings & spending money on normal necessities like clothes, food, medical care, etc.

Bills start piling up even with adequate funds available to pay.

Visits financial institutions with new person asking for large cash withdrawals.

A new “caregiver” or “friend” pops up.

Becomes distant & only spends time with “new caregiver”.

Adds someone to a bank account or new joint account.

Elderly man talking on phone holding credit card

Caregiver Scams:

Steals money or property from senior.

Charges high fees for caregiver services.

Lies about how much senior’s bills cost to pocket the extra money.

Take senior’s checkbook and addresses checks to themselves without consent.

Use manipulation to convince senior to sign over all property to them.

Stranger Scams:

Lottery Scam: You’ve won a contest/sweepstakes and just need to pay a small amount to receive a BIG prize.

RoboCalls: You’re past due on a bill and will be arrested if you don’t wire money or send a gift card payment immediately.

Romance Scam: You meet someone online and fall in love, but they need your help paying bills or returning to the U.S. so they ask to send them money so you two can finally be together.

Funeral Scam: A stranger approaches you at your spouse’s funeral and demands payment for an unpaid debt. Another side of this scam, the funeral director mentions the casket will be double the amount they previously stated because of unforeseen circumstances.

Grandparent Scam: You receive a call from someone pretending to be your grandchild and ask you for money because of an emergency.

Investment Scam: Someone calls with a fast way to invest your money and get back double by investing in a pyramid scheme or complex financial product.

Medicare Scam: You receive a call from a “medicare representative” asking for your personal information to verify your account & coverage.

Counterfeit Prescription Drugs: You search the internet for better prices on your prescriptions and find an unbelievable deal. You end up receiving an unknown substance that won’t help your medical condition.

Tips:

Be open about your finances with someone you trust.

If you’re a Launch member, sign up for our fraud text alerts so you always know if there is suspicious activity on your account.

Don’t keep valuables or cash in plain sight if you have people coming in & out of your home frequently.

Get everything in writing especially when it comes to your will & changing and/or updating your power of attorney.

Develop a relationship with your senior’s caregiver.

Set up direct deposit so checks are deposited straight into your account.

Set up health care directives & power of attorney in advance.

Check credit report for suspicious accounts or charges.

If you’re a Launch member and feel you’ve experienced elder financial abuse, reach out to us immediately. You can also submit a tip online to the FBI here. We hope this information helps in preventing elder financial abuse.

Resources:

7 Ways To Prevent Financial Elder Abuse – AARP

Financial Exploitation – U.S. Department of Justice

A Complete Guide to Elder Financial Abuse – Medicare Advantage

References:

Importance of Elder Abuse Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved from Nursing Home Abuse Center: https://www.nursinghomeabusecenter.com/elder-abuse/statistics/

Elder Abuse Facts (n.d.). Retrieved from National Council on Aging: https://www.ncoa.org/public-policy-action/elder-justice/elder-abuse-facts/

Elder Abuse (15 June 2020). Retrieved from the World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/elder-abuse

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