Elder Financial Abuse

Last week I attended a seminar about fraud and scams, put on by our state assemblyman. There were speakers from the contractors license board, the state insurance department, the public utilities commission, and two detectives from the city fraud investigation unit. The information was so good, and I wanted to share some of it with you. I won’t give you everything in one day, but rather try to spread it out over a few posts.

Why are seniors targeted for financial fraud?

Today’s senior are entering their retirement years with more disposable income than any other generation. They are the first generation to:

  • receive Social Security income
  • have income from pensions
  • have good credit
  • have large savings accounts

Seniors control 80 percent of the deposits in savings institutes, and seniors control over 70 percent of the total net worth of households.

However, 14 percent of seniors in the U.S. live under the poverty line and many more survive without necessities in order to pay the increased medical costs of aging. These seniors are also targeted for financial fraud. The next largest group to be targeted for fraud is active military personnel. Both groups can be concerned about their future and who will care for their families should something happen to them.

Here are some signs to look for if you have an older friend or family member:

  • large amount drawn out of the bank
  • numerous small withdrawals over a short period of time, inconsistent with the senior’s spending habits
  • large checks written to someone you don’t know
  • bills going unpaid because there isn’t enough money
  • ATM activity on statements yet the senior does not use ATMs
  • new credit card statements arriving in the mail
  • refinanced mortgage
  • having a caregiver who becomes overly interested in the senior’s finances
  • valuable personal items disappearing from the home
  • sudden changes in will, powers of attorney, insurance policies
  • unnecessary home repairs

Each county has an adult protective services unit or an elder abuse division of its police that you can contact if you suspect fraud.

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6 responses to “Elder Financial Abuse

  1. great tips, thanks. Friends of ours is having Alzheimers and started giving blank cheques away to strangers. Luckily her bank stopped the cheques. She won’t admit to any Alzheimers and won’t give up control of her affairs was the last I heard. Aging is a dilemma of our society.

    • You’re welcome. I am planning to post more tips that I learned from this seminar. I was so glad I attended, and very thankful that our assemblyman hosted such an event.

  2. I had the side window of my car smashed out on Christmas Eve, and my purse was taken, with all my cards, ID, and plenty more. Before I had gotten back from my hike and canceled the cards, the thieves had charged almost $1,000 at a nearby shopping center, using my debit and credit cards. I canceled my checking account and set up another.

    Just to be on the safe side, I went to annualcreditreport.com to check my credit ratings. Only one of them let me in, and the other two suggested I had applied for a mortgage last year. Well, I didn’t, and now I don’t know how to find out whether or not someone has gotten my information and applied for a mortgage using my good credit. At least I think I have it. Who knows? I’ve tried everything to find out what is going on, and unless I am willing to pay $15/month, forever it seems, I can’t get this information. Do you know what I should do next? Or send me to someone??

  3. Oh yes! I’m well aware of this. Our elderly neighbor who was getting dementia ending up losing all the money she had received from the sale of her house. We had no idea she was falling for these scams.

    • The state insurance commissioner told the story of a man who signed away his house to a fraudulent agent who claimed he was signing up for long-term care insurance.

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