Elder Fraud: What It Is and What You Need to Know

It’s sad to think that people take advantage of seniors for their own gain. But it does happen: Elder financial fraud is an unfortunate and frequent occurrence in the U.S. The average loss in elder financial abuse cases in 2016 was $36,000, according to a study from Allianz Life.

Additionally, 40 percent of caregivers said their elder was a victim of multiple financial abuse instances. It’s critical that seniors and family members alike take care of financial matters and ensure no scammer succeeds in siphoning cash away from the elder.

Know the common scams
Criminals tend to use the same old scams to defraud elderly targets. Knowing what to look out for can help seniors stay financially secure. Financial elder abuse commonly takes place over the phone, email or through websites.
Some of the most common tricks are:

  • Convincing an older person to sign a legal document they know little about.
  • Using obituary information to convince widows or widowers that the deceased had unpaid debts.
  • Calling late at night and pretending to be a grandchild in need of a wire transfer to get out of trouble.
  • Saying the senior won a sweepstakes and needs to give bank information to collect the prize.

Look for the signs
Seniors should either take the time to review monthly financial statements or enlist the help of a trusted relative or financial planner to do so. True Link, a retirement planning website, explained that a known loss of just $20 could signal a total annual loss of $2,000.

If anything looks awry in a monthly statement, it’s important to investigate immediately. Talk to the bank and other people with access to the account to get to the bottom of it.

Telemarketing schemes are common for any consumer, but seniors are at particular risk. Someone who receives just one telemarketer call per day is likely to experience three times the loss of someone who isn’t targeted by phone scams.

Prevent financial elder fraud
Handing over banking responsibilities to a trusted relative or financial advisor might be in a senior’s best interest.
That said, it’s critical to choose the person wisely. In 2015, $6.7 billion was lost to trusted caregivers, relatives or friends, True Link found.

If a senior receives frequent telemarketing calls, sign him or her up with the National Do Not Call registry, Daily Caring suggested. Also, teach your loved ones about the importance of not giving out financial information over the computer or phone.

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