There’s a growing crime spree in America, and it has to do with financially exploiting the elderly. Seniors are increasingly at risk for malicious attacks on their bank accounts, social security, and any other financial savings they may hold. Hackers and fraudsters alike are costing seniors billions, but there are ways to protect them. Here’s what you and your loved ones need to know.
Identifying Financial Abuse
Financial exploitation takes on many forms. You’ve probably heard about fraudulent emails asking for donations or investments, as well as simply hacking accounts. However, there are dozens of ways to commit this crime. They include:
- Theft of finances from accounts
- Fraud in the forms of emails, texts, and calls
- Misuse of assets or credit
- Using influence to gain control of money or property
- Using drugs or alcohol to gain control of money or property
With the rise of technology, many seniors are left unaware of how someone online can take advantage of them. They may believe an email truly came from the IRS or a creditor. The same is true for calls and texts, as well. Other scammers pose as charities and other types of seemingly beneficial organizations.
Another common form of financial exploitation takes place right on a senior’s television. As their mental faculties decline, they’re more likely to spend money on products that channels like QVC offer. Regardless of the way the crime is carried out, it often takes a skilled lawyer to remedy.
While you can’t personally stop every criminal, you can talk with your loved ones and help them take steps to protect themselves. The first step is to create a living will that ensures where all money and assets go if the individual’s mental state declines. It helps to hire legal aid in this matter, like this California elder law attorney, to ensure the document holds up in court.
Shredding receipts, bank statements, unused credit cards, and any other financial identifier is also highly advised. Don’t put it past criminals to rummage through the trash. Keeping essentials like checkbooks and other items that contain sensitive information under lock and key can also help in the event of a robbery.
It’s also vital that you talk with them about never revealing sensitive information. Their social security number, account numbers, and any other financial information are what scammers ask for in their criminal attempts. Don’t let them pay a fee for mysterious lottery winnings or send money to someone as an investment, either.
When All Else Fails
If you’ve had these conversation with your loved one but your talk never seem to get through to them, it may be time to consider compassionate elder care. This is especially true if they’ve fallen victim to the same style of scam multiple times.
In an assisted living facility, they are better protected against these threats but still retain their financial and day-to-day independence. It’s not an easy decision to make, but it could mean the difference between a criminal draining their accounts dry and them enjoying the retirement they’ve planned for.