Financial scammers frequently target the elderly because they perceive them to be more naïve, trusting, and lonely than younger victims. Sadly, millions of seniors fall prey to elder financial abuse every year, and in over half the cases, family members are involved. As an informal caregiver, helping your aging loved one stay vigilant against senior scams is essential for their continued health and wellbeing. Here’s what to look for, along with some fraud-prevention tips for seniors who are worried about protecting their retirement nest eggs.
Financial Scams that Target the Elderly
According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), these are some of the more common examples of financial fraud that target the elderly:
- Medicare. The fraudster poses as a Medicare representative to obtain personal information. They then use it to bill Medicare for fraudulent services so they can pocket the money.
- Funerals. Scammers often obtain information from obituaries that they then use to extort money from older family members or grieving spouses.
- Phone solicitors. As the most common type of fraud, phone scammers pose as a family member in distress or a fake charity trying to persuade seniors to send them money.
- Sweepstakes/lotteries. This scheme involves contacting a senior by phone or mail to inform them that they’ve won some prize, but they must first pay a fee to get that prize. The fraudster then sends a fake check to the victim because they know it will take several days for the bank to reject it.
- Internet. Most seniors aren’t tech-savvy, so they are often targeted by email phishing scams that direct them to fake websites under the false premise of updating their bank or credit card information. Many are also tricked into downloading fake anti-virus software that allows scammers to access financial information.
Signs of Financial Elder Abuse
While in your loved one’s home, look for these signs of financial elder abuse:
- Unopened mail lying around with magazine subscription bills, sweepstakes notifications, boxes with “free” gifts, and other suspicious solicitations.
- The seniors are not paying household mortgage, medical, or utility bills even though they have resources for it.
- There’s a lack of food and other essential items in the home.
- They suddenly start acting afraid, confused, or look uncharacteristically disheveled.
- A new caregiver, including a family member, is trying to block your access to them.
- You notice unusual withdrawals from their bank account, new names on the account, or frequent ATM or credit card transactions.
How to Protect a Senior from Scammers
Here are some ways to protect your loved one from financial scammers:
- Enroll them in the national “Do Not Call” registry, which should thwart the efforts of most phone solicitors.
- Set them up with a direct deposit for their monthly pension and Social Security checks.
- Become a custodian on their bank accounts so that you can monitor transactions.
- Ask them politely not to speak to strangers who come to the door or contact them by phone.
- Insist that they discuss with you first any unsolicited offers for products or services in exchange for money.
- Read all contracts and purchasing agreements over before your senior signs them. If they are hesitant at first, mention that you were scammed recently and that you don’t want it to happen to them.
- Help them shred all non-essential personal documents and financial records.
- Monitor their credit report for signs of suspicious activity through a source like www.annualcreditreport.com.
- Whether it’s you or another trusted individual, ask your loved one to designate someone as their durable Power-of-Attorney (POA).
Your Trusted Senior Home Care Source in Southern California
Protecting aging loved ones from financial fraud can be challenging. At New Wave Home Care, we’ve been helping families in Southern California for 10+ years now. We focus on keeping aging loved ones safe and comfortable in their own homes. As a licensed home care provider, we support clients and their families with personalized in-home solutions. We offer personal care, transitional care, respite care, dementia and Alzheimer’s care, and hospice support.
When you choose New Wave Home Care in Pasadena, you can rest assured that your loved one is getting specialized care from a trusted, friendly caregiver. To learn more now or schedule a FREE in-home assessment for a senior in the greater Los Angeles area, please visit us at www.newwavehomecare.com.