World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (June 15) and the entire month of June have been designated as a time to focus global attention on the physical, emotional, and financial abuse of the elderly.
In order to protect our loved ones and ourselves, it’s important to be on guard for scams geared toward older Americans or signs that it has already happened. According to the World Health Organization, as many as six percent of our elderly are targeted, and much of this goes unreported.
Financial scams can be especially devastating as many of our elderly live on fixed incomes. Here are five key tips to avoid being the victim of a senior scam.
Never pay for anything you have no memory of ordering. You should also avoid giving out personal information to unknown third parties.
Work with financial institutions that have fraud protections in place. This makes it easier to protect your credit card and banking information.
Never let a stranger in your house. Instead, ask them to leave their business card and say your spouse, child or lawyer will be in touch.
Be wary of family or caregivers with alcohol or drug problems. Unfortunately, the desperation caused by addiction could cause even someone you know and love to victimize you.
Additionally, watch for some of the following signs that a scam has already impacted your elderly family members such as:
- Unusual changes in bank account or money management
- Unusual or sudden changes in a will or other financial documents
- Suspicious signatures on financial documents
- Unpaid bills, especially those that have been routinely paid in the past
Financial scams happen to people of all ages. American consumers lose billions of dollars each year due to various forms of deception. You can help by being cautious and pro-active, and also by reporting when your family is affected. If you find that you or a loved one has been scammed, contact local law enforcement and make a report of the financial abuse incident. You will need to be prepared with information such as the dates and times the contact occurred, what information was released to the scammer, how money was transferred (and how much), and if it was a one-time or repeated incident.
Don’t be embarrassed. Sadly, today’s scammers are very smart and can make a transaction seem entirely legitimate.
The bottom line is that the elderly are often targeted by unscrupulous scammers. Awareness is imperative in protecting you and your loved ones from this rampant and devastating fraud.