Protecting Elderly Parents from Financial Fraud
Elder fraud is when people purposefully target the elderly by deceiving them through the promise of services, goods or other financial benefits that do not actually exist, and were never intended to be given, or were completely misrepresented. It is illegal to exploit anyone young or old financially, however the elderly tend to be an easy target, and so their funds or property and even life insurance are often taken advantage of. Here are some ways to make sure your protecting elderly parents from financial fraud.
Be Very Wary If Cognitive Abilities Are Failing
Those elders whose cognitive abilities are failing, which include procedural, conceptual and judgment skills that are crucial to functioning independently are at the most risk for elderly fraud. Those that are isolated are also at extreme risk, as perpetrators are very good at picking them out and creating relationships with them. The most skilled can be exceedingly charming, especially if the elder is lonely. Generally those between the ages of 80 and 90 are at the most risk, and women tend to be the most vulnerable.
What to Look Out For
Elderly fraud can come from many directions. One common example is from a family member who attempts to confuse, frighten or intimidate their elderly relative into handing over an asset, for instance an adult child who takes his parent’s possessions or money. It is also important to be weary of salespeople that put a high amount of pressure on the elderly or even stockbrokers and financial advisors who are willing to take advantage of someone’s age by getting them into an inappropriate investment. These types of scams can come by phone, in person, online or by mail and so it’s important to watch for any means of contact.
Talk to Your Elderly Loved One
It’s a good idea to have a conversation with them early in order to make them aware of the risk of getting preyed upon. Make sure that their wills are up to date and that you have the power of attorney in the case that they aren’t able to handle their finances any longer. You can inform them that they should come to you first with any financial questions that they may have. You should also tell them to not give out any of their passwords, Social Security numbers or credit card numbers. Also tell them to not give out money to just any charity that calls asking for a donation, as they should take time to think it over and ask to receive the charity’s information in the mail.
Do a Yearly Check-Up
It’s important to keep up to date on your parent’s finances. To do this make sure you complete a yearly checkup on all their financial statements. You should also review their bank and life insurance information, as well as any investments that they’ve made throughout the years.
Look For the Signs
You should be on the look out for any changes in your elderly loved ones spending patterns. This includes transfers or cash withdrawals from any of their bank accounts through ATMS and tellers, suspicious household repairs, and unexpected transfers of any of their assets.
If you suspect that your elderly loved one has fallen victim to fraud then don’t hesitate to take action immediately. Although you may be embarrassed or afraid to do something if the fraudster is a family member, it is crucial that you do so. You can head to the Adult Protective Services or police, as well as a social service agency in order to seek the help that you need.
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