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Don’t allow elder financial abuse to happen

It’s a tragic story that is in the news too often. A woman's son was writing checks to himself and having his mother, who was declining mentally, sign them. She believed she was signing checks for the entire family and had no idea the checks were all written to her son. As it often happens in these cases, the abuse was perpetrated by a family member. It has been estimated that 90 percent of abusers are family members or other people the victim trusts.

Financial exploitation of seniors is a growing problem as 1 in 20 seniors have reported financial exploitation. According to estimates, seniors lose over $36 billion each year to financial abuse and scams.

Undue influence on vulnerable seniors

Seniors are often the targets of unscrupulous activity. They often have a lifetime worth of savings or other assets they worked hard to build up to take them through their later years. Supposed friends and more often than not family members far too often try to take advantage of this.

One of the main ways to do this is with “undue influence,” or the power of persuasiveness. If you or a loved one are experiencing a situation where someone may be trying to take advantage of elder vulnerability, it may be time to get advice and even take action.

What is the Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act?

The Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act (EAPPA) was signed into law in October 2017. It is meant to combat elder abuse, which something legislation has been slow to reform, and improve responses to allegations of abuse.

The Act, which is estimated to cost $21 million dollars, will help provide resources and data statistics to improve elder abuse policies.

Know the risk factors for elder financial abuse

During the early years of your life, your mother and father protected you from the world's dangers. Now that they are elderly and you are their caregiver, it falls to you to protect them. Many people will experience this role reversal with their aging parents. Caregivers should know about the unique threats that senior citizens face that children and mid-life adults usually do not.

One thing that caregivers should be on guard against is financial abuse--that is, taking advantage of someone who is elderly for financial gain. Financial abuse is a threat that elderly adults are at particularly high risk for. There are a few important red flags for elder financial abuse, such as:

Talking with senior citizens about money concerns

There are scams everywhere, not just from self-appointed Nigerian princes with an email account. While the Nigerian Email Scam is well known, predators take advantage of the vulnerable through phone calls, mailings, emails, and in person. Approximately 10 percent of people over 65 are victims of elder abuse, and financial abuse is a leading issue. It’s a crime that has serious consequences on the physical and mental health of senior citizens in addition to their financial well-being.

The best defense against such scams is to plan ahead. By establishing financial trust with your family members, you can create as a line of defense before scammers get too close to aging and vulnerable loved ones. Like most of life’s important decisions, it begins with a heart-to-heart between family members.

Beware of IRS phone scams

When your phone rings, the last thing you expect is for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to be on the other end. They address themselves and automatically you tense up. Why would the IRS be calling you?

They’re claiming you owe them money and are insisting on immediate payment. They may have also alleged that certified letters were mailed and returned as undeliverable. But how could this be true? You’ve always paid your taxes and never once had an issue. Yet they are relentless with their payment demands and threatening jail time if you don’t comply.

When your elderly family members need help: Is someone hurting Grandma?

If you grew up near your grandparents, you probably have very fond memories of spending time with them. But as they aged, they may have started experiencing health problems or cognitive issues. For example, Grandma may have some form of dementia that makes it impossible for her to take care of herself.

Grandpa may have had several strokes leaving him unable to communicate and struggling to manage finances. Often family member try to help in these situations, but just as frequently, they hire caretakers or financial advisors whom they then rely on to care for the elderly family members.

Grandma won the lottery! (Or was just scammed)

In this technological age, we often forget about snail mail, but scammers haven’t. Increasingly scammers are using traditional mail to target the elderly. This may be because many older people are not on social media and do not use email.

Many older adults also still write checks. Scammers are on to this and have tailored their fraud campaigns to checks.

Who Scams The Elderly?

Our population is aging. As our families grow older it our lives get busier. Often we are working full time with kids in school and trying to care for our aging parents. This job gets tougher if we live across town or across the state.

Who scams the elderly?

Tips to help elderly parents avoid phone scams

Phone scams are becoming more and more common. Sadly, elderly people are often be a target because they may not know any better or realize that the phone call is not from a legitimate source. You may be able to protect your loved ones financially by teaching them about the warning signs of a scam. Here are 3 quick lessons to share with them:

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