It’s estimated that financial exploitation costs the elderly over $6 billion annually, just from reported cases. Unfortunately, the toll is likely much higher since most cases go unreported. Sadly, over 50% of the time, family members are the perpetrators of this criminal activity, which often goes unrecognized by the victim and other family members. Victims who are aware of what’s happening with their finances are often reluctant to say anything because of embarrassment, or they don’t want the family member to be held accountable to other family members and law enforcement agencies. To help protect your loved one against elder fraud, here are five signs to look for and ways you can prevent them.
Sign #1: Unexplained or unusual bank account withdrawals, wire transfers, or other financial changes
This is the most common sign of elder fraud since the end goal of fraudsters is to take as much money as possible in the shortest period to avoid getting caught. This is a particularly easy sign to read if you notice this activity from a homebound senior who is not technology savvy.
Make sure a family member or trusted friend is approved to receive account statements monthly. Also, have text alerts enabled on bank accounts to notify that individual when a withdrawal has been made over a certain amount.
Sign #2: New “best friends.”
The sudden appearance of a romantic interest or younger “BFF” merits close attention. These relationships often begin online, and the new “friend” may not even be located in the U.S. Their goal is to gain the confidence of the senior target and get personal information from them, including credit card and bank account numbers.
Stay actively involved in the life of your loved one. Often, seniors allow people into their lives they know they shouldn’t out of boredom or loneliness.
Sign #3: Abrupt changes in wills, trusts, power of attorney, or beneficiaries.
This is often a sign that a trusted family member is abusing a senior financially, though it can be a trusted friend. Unfortunately, seniors with dementia or other cognitive impairment are often victims of this activity.
Keep legal, insurance, and investment documents safely locked up with only two family members having access. Also, tell financial and legal advisors that you are to be notified if they are ever approached by your loved one or anyone else wanting to make changes to their documents or insurance policies.
Sign #4: Evidence of unpaid bills or utilities being disconnected due to nonpayment.
This can indicate that your loved one no longer has control over their finances, either because someone else has gained access to their accounts or there has been a cognitive decline.
Have utility bills and mortgage/rent notifications sent to you if you are concerned about your loved one being taken advantage of.
Sign #5: Missing cash or valuables from the senior’s home.
This is a sign that a criminal has gained access to your loved one’s home, and probably their confidence as well.
Make unannounced visits to see if someone is there who shouldn’t be. Also, talk candidly with your loved one about their safety and not let anyone but longtime, trusted friends and family members into their home.
First In Care Helps Protect Seniors in Bradenton & Manatee County
As your loved one ages, they may need and want companionship care at home. Having someone there with them regularly alleviates feelings of loneliness and prevents isolation, which is both unhealthy for seniors. The presence of a caregiver can also deter elder fraud from occurring. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about our services. We’ve provided home care for seniors for over ten years and would love to assist your family.