Elder financial exploitation is costly and real. According to some estimates, the annual loss is $37 billion. Many losses are brought about by someone the victim trusted, despite the fact that many abuses are committed by strangers who prey on society’s most defenseless members. However, few cases have been reported. Victims may be afraid to speak up to someone they know or care about, ashamed that they fell for a con, clueless that they were conned, or both.
Although the causes of elder abuse vary, a few typical ones are as follows:
– Lacks technological knowledge. An older person may be more prone to fall victim to an online fraud, click on a dubious link, or provide personal information without first looking for a secure web address.
– Believing. Not everyone is quick to suspect a request for money from someone pretending to be a relative or an official-sounding organisation.
– Being emotionally weak. It’s human nature to want to support and assist family members, making it challenging to realize there is no true need. Some elderly people feel threatened by younger relatives who place financial demands on them.
– Accessible. Seniors are desirable targets because they are more likely to own their homes, have strong credit, and have a nest egg saved.
Seniors are more susceptible to scams than younger folks who are still driving, working, or participating in social activities because they tend to be more lonely and needy for attention and engagement. Additionally, if the relationship’s money manager passes away, the remaining spouse might not be able to spot a financial con when it occurs.
Financial Abuse Types
Any illegal or inappropriate use of an elderly person’s assets falls under the wide category of “elder financial abuse.” The three primary categories of elder financial abuse are as follows, according to research by True Link Financial:
1. Abuse of power. Legal, but dishonest, financial techniques used to persuade and deceive seniors into signing substandard deals in order to fleece them of their money.
2. Fraud. Illegal con games, such as robbers posing as a grandchild or other family in need of emergency money.
3. Abuse by caregivers. The theft of money by those who are supposed to be looking out for the senior’s best interests is perhaps the most abhorrent. Average losses brought on by caregiver maltreatment are far higher than those brought on by outsiders.
Abuse of finances can take practically any form. Just a few instances are shown below:
– Telemarketing fraud. Every ruse known to man has been tried over the phone. Callers promise free assistance in avoiding foreclosure, a fantastic reward or vacation, the promise to feed hungry children or assist others, or other admirable causes that have no basis in reality.
– Deliveries. Free lunch seminars and presentations that promise attendees a free weekend getaway are frequently high-pressure sales pitches that are extremely difficult to leave.
– Selfish gifts. Whether maliciously or because they believe they have a right to, caregivers and family members assist themselves to money, jewels, works of art, and other assets.
– Medical fraud. Insurance is billed for unneeded medical care and materials. For services that were never provided, fraudulent bills are submitted. Contraband prescription medications are discovered to exist.
– Fraud during a funeral. Premium services like embalming or a casket are portrayed as being necessary or fundamental.
– A betrayal of trust. Some elderly people transfer the deed to their home to a relative so that person won’t have to pay estate taxes after the senior passes away. Relative either buys the house and moves in or evicts the elderly person.
Low reporting rates. The victims may not be aware that they have been conned. Due to their stance or report, they can be afraid of retaliation or additional abuse. Some people are afraid to acknowledge that they have been victimized for fear that their families will assume they are unable to manage their own affairs. The victim might believe there is no way to undo the harm done if the documentation has already been completed. The victim can have problems recalling the specifics if some time has passed since the deception. A senior could not be aware of who or where to report something.
Safeguarding elderly parents
Employ assistance. A qualified financial advisor should be hired by your loved one to create a plan for all assets, including retirement accounts, a will, a power of attorney, and medical directives. A trust can restrict family members’ access to funds. A trusted individual should be given the responsibility of paying the senior’s bills if the senior is unable or unable to do so, but safeguards must be in place to prevent wasteful spending.
Legal documents may have protections by design. Consumer Reports claims that a power of attorney with restrictions can be created for no additional cost. The individual with the power of attorney can be overseen by a third party, or every check could, for instance, require two signatures. Consider designating a family member to assist in putting safety measures in place and attend financial planning meetings with the senior.
Communicate. Discuss prevalent scams and fundamental safety measures. Help your loved one learn never to divulge sensitive information over the phone unless they have called a reliable source on their own initiative. There’s no need to give in to pressure to submit a credit card information right away because any reputable charity will have the option of mailing a donation, so there’s no need to give in.
If the salesperson has already started calling your senior and there is a phone number accessible, try to get in touch with him. Activate your Do Not Call listing. In order to reduce unwanted telemarketing calls and have the senior removed from active white pages listings, cancel the senior’s landline subscription in favor of just cell phone service.
Discuss openly with family who will be in charge of the senior’s care, whether they will be compensated, and if so, how much.
Take security precautions. Check the history of any hired labor. Lock up your personal documents. Use a locked mailbox. shred papers. laptops with passwords. Installing a house camera system is a possibility.
Make contact with an advocacy group. You can find information for preventing elder abuse in each of the 50 states through the National Center on Elder Abuse.