Seniors can be victims of fraud and financial abuse through a variety of ways. Seniors find themselves being promised goods that do not exist, services that were never intended to be provided, and financial benefits that were misrepresented. Furthermore, along with fraud, scammer and hackers also target Seniors for their funds or property. This is called financial exploitation and is defined as the illegal or improper use of an older adult’s assets. Seniors are attractive targets of fraud and financial abuse because they are seen as vulnerable, dependent, and less knowledgeable about financial matters. But by becoming knowledgeable about common fraud indicators, you can also prevent fraud and financial abuse from affecting your loved ones.
Fraud and Financial Abuse Commonalities
To protect yourself and your loved ones from fraud and financial exploitation, you must recognize when others are trying to take advantage of you and your assets.
Common perpetrators of elder fraud and financial exploitation are family members that:
- Have financial problems
- Feel entitled in taking what is “almost” or “rightfully” theirs
- Want to prevent other family members from acquiring the elder’s assets
Apart from family members, common perpetrators can include:
- Predatory individuals or groups that seek out Seniors with the intent of exploiting them
- Unethical Professionals that may overcharge for services and use deceptive business practices in addition to using their positions to gain compliance
- Telemarketers trying to get credit card or identity information by selling goods that will never arrive
- “Sweetheart Scams” where alleged suitors try to convince Seniors that love and care are their reasons for wanting to be included on bank account, property deeds, wills, etc.
For concerned Seniors and family members that believe fraud and financial abuse has occur here are some common indicators:
- Withdrawals from bank accounts or transfers between accounts that the elder cannot explain
- Belongings or property are missing
- Suspicious signatures on checks or other documents
- Newly executed documents, like a will or power of attorney, that the Senior doesn’t seem to understand
- Many unpaid bills
- Missing property
- Sudden social isolation
If you or your loved ones suspect that fraud or financial abuse has occurred, first of all you will want to notify bank personnel by giving them a heads-up. This may be enough to stop any more wrongdoing from occurring because they can freeze bank accounts immediately. Furthermore, contact Adult Protective Services to report the fraud, so they can begin an investigation and aid the victims. Finally, alert local law enforcement. Law enforcement intervenes in cases of fraud and financial abuse when evidence points to a crime.