Elder fraud is financial abuse that specifically targets seniors. The perpetrator can be a stranger, or sadly a friend of family member. Nevertheless, it is important to understand the risk in order to help protect elders against such financial fraud.
CHANCES OF FRAUD
Research has shown that as many as 1 in 18 “cognitively intact” older adults have fallen victim to an elder fraud scam yearly, according to a 2017 study in the American Journal of Public Health. Life events such as retirement, widowhood, the onset of a disability, or the death of a spouse or close friend are all major life events that often cause an individual to feel lonely. As a result, these impactful changes can lead to poor decision making, which can cause senior adults to be unaware they are participating in a scam or potential fraud.
To help prevent the chance of elder financial fraud, it is important to talk with your loved ones about their financial means and the risk of elder abuse. The more they know, the likelier they will be able to identify a scammer. There are some signs to be aware of that may indicate a result of elder fraud.
- Be aware of any large or unexplained bank withdrawals. To be on the safe side, anything you do not remember authorizing, it is important to contact your bank right away.
- If you notice your loved one is wiring large sums of money.
- Altered wills or trusts. If you notice any unfamiliar changes to your loved ones will or trust, this can be a clear sign of a scammer.
If you believe your loved one is a victim of fraud, you should report it immediately to your local police. Also, in the instance that money has been transferred, it is important to report the fraud to your bank right away.
MANAGING THEIR EXPENSES
If your loved one is willing to accept the help of paying bills and managing expenses, this can greatly decrease the chance of elder fraud. It is important to make sure your elders have essential legal documents in place that will enable you or other family members to help if needed. This includes a will, a healthcare proxy, a HIPAA release form, power of attorney, and can involve being named as a “representative payee” for social security purposes. These steps will allow you pay the bills and manage your loved ones’ finances, reducing the chances that they’ll be taken advantage of by unscrupulous actors.
Contact Legacy Counsellors with any questions or if you have a loved one that pay be at risk for elder fraud.