Countless seniors are victimized by financial scammers every year, and oftentimes it’s their own family members who are the perpetrators.
Your elderly aunt lives alone, so you’ve been providing her with some care. But several weeks ago, her unemployed, 20-something granddaughter moved in and “took over” the caregiving duties. But the last few times you’ve stopped by to check on your aunt, her home was a mess and she looked disheveled. And now, her granddaughter’s driving around in a new car. It’s got you worried, but you aren’t sure what to do next.
Tactics Financial Scammers Use
Over 90% of elderly financial fraud victims are preyed upon by their own relatives. Tactics used by those financial scammers include sharing a bank account with a retired family member, outright theft, or falsely promising to deliver care or services in exchange for money. And, those criminal activities are usually accompanied by threats, intimidation, physical violence and even the withholding of essential caregiving services.
Then there are the non-related financial scammers who use methods like:
- Random phone calls to solicit “donations” and obtain personal information
- Email scams
- Door-to-door solicitations for fake charities or services
When you’re looking after an aging in place elderly loved one, there are some important warning signs of financial fraud that you need to be aware of.
Financial Fraud Red Flags
Here are some common signs that your loved one is being targeted by a financial scammer:
- They uncharacteristically act confused, afraid or look disheveled.
- Important bills are not getting paid, like the rent, mortgage and utilities; even though they have a monthly income stream.
- Another caregiver is trying to deny you access to them.
- There are piles of unopened mail lying around including unread magazine subscription bills, sweepstakes notifications, boxes containing “free” gifts and other strange solicitations.
- You notice suspicious activities on their bank statements, like withdrawals, frequent ATM or credit card use, or new names added to the accounts.
If you suspect that your loved one is being targeted by a financial scammer, there are several actions you can take to protect their retirement nest egg.
Protecting Seniors from Financial Scams
Be proactive by protecting a senior from financial scams before they happen with these steps:
- Place them on the “do not call” list. Signing them up for this list should block most phone scammers from calling.
- Discourage unsolicited offers. Instruct your loved one to avoid online or phone conversations with strangers who contact them randomly about offers for products or services that sound “too good to be true”. The same goes for door-to-door solicitors who show up unannounced.
- Encourage direct deposit. If they’re not already doing so, encourage your loved one to set up direct deposits to their bank account for all their retirement checks. This should keep checks from being stolen from their mailbox or otherwise intercepted.
- Buy a paper shredder. Help them shred any unused personal documents containing sensitive information like their Social Security, credit card and bank account numbers.
- Watch their credit reports. Help your loved one monitor their credit reports regularly for unusual activity through a site like www.annualcreditreport.com.
- Become their financial custodian. By becoming a financial custodian you’ll be able to monitor activities on to their banking, retirement and credit card accounts.
- Review all contracts. Ask your loved one if you can look over any purchase agreements or contracts that they’re planning to sign first. Sell the idea by mentioning that you were scammed recently and don’t want it to happen to them.
- Screen in-home caregivers. If your senior wants to hire a caregiver to assist them around the home, make sure that you’re involved in the screening process and that the caregiver is licensed and insured.
Family Trusted Home Care for Seniors in Massachusetts
Finding an in-home caregiver that you can trust is hard, especially when you live far away. At Cranberry Home Care, we are a fully licensed and insured home care agency with carefully screened caregivers that are highly trained to provide the compassionate care your loved one deserves so they can continue aging comfortably in place right where they want to be. Our in-home amenities include light housekeeping, personal hygiene, meals, medication reminders, transportation and companionship.
All our family trusted services can be individually combined in an affordable package that will restore your peace-of-mind. To learn more now about why countless families in the Southeastern, MA, area already place their trust in Cranberry Home Care, or to schedule a FREE, in-home care consultation for a senior today, please visit: www.cranberryhomecare.com!