Seniors are increasingly becoming targets of financial scams. Studies show that up to five million elderly adults in the U.S. each year become victims of financial abuse. Their estimated annual financial loss related to financial abuse is $36.5 billion.
There are several reasons for this trend. First of all, seniors often have substantial savings that can be attractive to thieves and con artists. They may be more likely to live alone and susceptible, making them easier targets for criminals. Additionally, seniors may be less likely to report financial abuse due to shame or embarrassment.
Financial abuse is a type of abuse that can occur when someone tries to exploit a senior citizen for their money or assets. This can include stealing money from a bank account, using a credit card without permission, or pressuring someone into signing over a property.
Financial abuse can have a devastating impact on seniors, both financially and emotionally. It can leave them feeling isolated, frightened, and mistrustful of others. In some cases, it can even lead to homelessness. Fortunately, you can take steps if you suspect that your senior loved one is experiencing financial abuse.
For one, you can hire a licensed lawyer specializing in elder financial abuse. They have the necessary experience and knowledge to help you protect your loved one’s assets. They can help you bring a financial abuse claim and secure the result you wish for your loved one.
It helps to work with an elder financial abuse lawyer dedicated to protecting elders against abuse, including physical abuse, neglect, and abandonment. This way, you can be sure that you are working with someone who has your best interests at heart and will fight to get the best possible outcome for your case.
You can also report the financial abuse to the authorities. In some cases, you may need to contact Adult Protective Services or the police. You should also consider getting a local seniors’ advocacy group for support and assistance.
You can also take preventative steps to help protect your loved one from financial abuse. These are three ways you can help:
Help Them Understand Common Financial Scams
Several common financial scams target seniors. These can include fraudulent telemarketing schemes, so-called “Nigerian” email scams, and fake lotteries. While the specifics of these scams vary, they all share one key characteristic: they seek to take advantage of seniors’ trusting nature. Seniors need to be aware of these scams and how to protect themselves from them.
One way to help seniors avoid becoming victims of financial scams is to educate them about the most common types of scams. This includes explaining how the scam works and what the red flags are. For example, many telemarketing scams involve high-pressure sales tactics or promises of “free” gifts.
Additionally, it is essential to emphasize that no one should ever have to pay money upfront to collect a prize. If seniors are armed with this knowledge, they will be less likely to fall victim to these types of scams.
Another way to help seniors avoid financial scams is to encourage them to be skeptical of unsolicited offers. This means that they should never give out personal information (such as their Social Security number or bank account information) to someone they don’t know. Additionally, they should be wary of any offer that seems too good to be true.
Encourage Them to Talk About Their Finances With You
One way to help prevent senior financial abuse is to encourage seniors to talk about their finances with you. This includes things like their income, expenses, and assets. By having this conversation, you can better understand your senior loved one’s financial situation. This, in turn, can help you spot any potential red flags that may indicate financial abuse.
For example, your loved one is suddenly making large withdrawals from their bank account. This could be a sign that they are being coerced into doing so. Talking about finances can also help build trust between you and your senior loved one. This way, they will be more likely to come to you if they suspect that they are being abused.
Make Sure Their Legal Documents are in Order
Another way to help prevent senior financial abuse is to ensure that their legal documents are in order. This includes their will, power of attorney, and an advance directive. Having these documents in place can help ensure that your loved one’s wishes are carried out if they cannot do so themselves.
It is also essential to make sure that you are named the primary contact in these documents. This way, you can be sure that you are making decisions about your loved one’s finances if they cannot do so themselves. These documents can also help prevent elder financial abuse in another way.
In some cases, scammers will target seniors who do not have these documents in place. They may then try to coerce them into signing over their assets to the scammer. Having these documents in place can help protect against this type of abuse.
Elder financial abuse is no laughing matter. It can have a devastating impact on your senior loved one’s financial and emotional health. However, there are steps you can take to help prevent it. These include educating seniors about financial scams, encouraging them to talk about their finances, and ensuring their legal documents are in order. By taking these steps, you can help reduce the risk of your loved one becoming a victim of elder financial abuse.