Did you know that over 10% of America’s older adults are targeted by financial scammers per year? That means that over 5 million people are getting fleeced, day after day. In case that wasn’t enough to shock you, one financial study found that this kind of elderly fraud costs America’s older adults over $37 billion a year. That’s the equivalent of Sheldon Adelson’s net worth.
So, as a caregiver, what can you do to protect your parents or other loved one from these criminals? You can learn the warning signs of elderly fraud. And then, if you recognize any of them in your loved one, you can get help fast. Here goes.
Their financial habits change.
If your parent or loved one has always been really with it when it comes to finances and now, when they’re asked about bank statements or signatures that don’t make sense they have no answers, it’s time to ring the alarm. These kinds of discrepancies could mean that a scammer in the guise of a government agency (like the IRS) might have gotten their signature. Or that their computer or smartphone might have been hacked for personal information.
Another financial habit warning sign is when a financially secure loved one begins borrowing money, or a parent who has always been generous with gifts for the grandkids suddenly cuts back. Whenever you see drastic changes like these, start sniffing around.
They’re getting a lot of phone calls from unknown numbers.
We all get robocalls and prank calls every so often. But a serious uptick in calls from blocked or unavailable numbers could signal big trouble. If there’s a pattern to when these numbers call, try to be around so you can listen in. If your loved one lives in a senior community, alert the staff and ask them to lend a hand.
“Close” friends popping up? That could mean elderly fraud.
Has your loved one started mentioning a “close friend” or “wonderful neighbor” you never heard of before and don’t know? Has a long-lost family member suddenly showed up in their lives and become their BFF? If the answer is yes, don’t panic but do get involved. Show interest in meeting the person and insert yourself into the relationship so you can assess the situation.
Documents are missing.
Does your loved one know where their Medicare and Social Security cards are? Do they have title deeds that attest to property ownership, or other important documents that could compromise them financially if they fell into the wrong hands? Make sure that all originals are in a safe deposit box in the bank, and that you or your loved one knows where the copies are. If anything goes missing, report it immediately.
Their credit score has changed.
Have your parents check their credit score once or twice a year. Check if anything has changed or if any cards have been opened up in their name that they don’t remember signing up for. Check their credit statements each month, too. That way, you’ll catch any unauthorized purchases immediately.
If you do suspect that your loved one is a victim of elderly fraud, don’t sit on it. Contact the bank or any relevant government offices right away. And don’t forget to notify the staff at their residence of your suspicions, too.
Have you had experience dealing with elderly fraud? Please share below; forewarned is forearmed!