Every year, billions of dollars are lost by the elderly through scams and fraud. It’s an unfortunate reality that scammers love to target older adults. Seniors are vulnerable targets to begin with, as they’re often more trusting. They also may not be as quick to recognize common scams as their younger counterparts. Seniors have been working their entire life to build their savings to be able to retire, which is another prime reason why they are targeted.
Elder fraud and abuse costs victims approximately $3 Billion each year, though it’s been noted that these numbers may be much higher, as only about 1 in 44 elder care abuse case are reported. This may have to do with the fact that according to the National Center on Elder Abuse, around 90% of the perpetrators of abuse are people the victims know, such as family, friends, caregivers, or neighbors.
When helping an elderly relative manage their finances, there are things that you can look out for to try and protect them from abuse.
Unusual or unexplained activity in an older person’s bank accounts can be a major red flag of financial abuse. If you notice large withdrawals or questionable credit card charges that the individual is unable to explain or that they don’t remember authorizing, these may be signs that your elderly loved one is being financially abused. Periodically reviewing your parent or relative’s finances with them can help protect them against fraud.
On the same note, if you begin noticing sudden changes to financial or legal documents, this can also be a red flag. If your loved one begins making unexplained trips to attorneys or financial advisors or begins to make changes to documents such as estate documents, insurance policies, and retirement accounts, this may be because someone else is influencing their decisions.
Older individuals, especially those who live alone are more vulnerable to being exploited. If you notice someone new working their way into your loved one’s life, especially if the new friend is cutting off access you have to your senior relative, this may be a sign that this person is trying to financially exploit them.
When you begin to notice signs of cognitive impairments, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s, this is a good time to have a designated individual step in to manage their finances. Dementia makes it easy to persuade an individual to make financial decisions that they normally wouldn’t if they were in their proper state of mind and leaves many seniors susceptible to fraud.
If your relative suddenly changes email addresses or phone numbers, or you are receiving messages that sound atypical of your loved one, this may indicate that someone else has gained access to their accounts.
Many elderly victims are afraid to report fraud out of fear of judgment. It’s important to maintain open and regular communication with your loved ones to make sure they are comfortable speaking up if they feel something is wrong. Keeping up to date on the latest scams targeting senior citizens can help you protect your loved ones. Our staff is trained in recognizing the warning signs of abuse, and we’re here to help you and your loved ones. Reach out today at 610-667-2838 to find out more.