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.