It’s easy to understand why elderly individuals are attractive targets for many forms of abuse. Dementia, social isolation, and poor physical health can make elderly individuals susceptible to physical abuse, financial abuse, or emotional abuse. This can occur in the comforts of their own home, hospitals, or institutional settings like nursing homes. Of course, if you suspect that an elderly loved one is being abused in any form in a nursing home, for example, it’s essential that you contact 911 as well as a Houston nursing home abuse attorney to protect yours and the rights of your loved one. The topic of this article today is financial elderly abuse in particular. Elderly people may have significant assets or equity in their homes. Equity is the growth in value of your home while you have owned it and this can be huge, for example New York financier Lindsay Rosenwald made $35 million on his penthouse thanks to a boom in the real estate market. Usually elderly people also have a regular source of income such as Social Security or a pension. They also may be especially vulnerable due to isolation, cognitive decline, physical disability, or other health problems. When looking for an elder abuse attorney in Santa Clarita, Owen, Patterson, and Owen has won many high profile cases, and this means that they are able to build good cases for victims of all kinds of elderly abuse. One fact to consider is that nearly one out of every five Americans over the age of 65 has fallen victim to elder financial abuse.¹
That’s why it’s important to raise awareness of the red flags surrounding this crime by talking with elderly loved ones and helping them understand they are not alone in dealing with financial abuse. If you suspect that your elderly relative is being a target for abuse, whether that be online or physically, you could potentially have an elderly abuse legal case to take to the courts.
Watch out for these common stranger scams
Some financial scams are easy to identify, but many are not quite so easy to spot. Here are a few of the most common scams strangers may use to trick elderly individuals into giving up money, personal information, or property.
Password fraud / identity theft – Technology-savvy fraudsters set up fake websites for the purpose of obtaining personal information such as Social Security numbers, dates of birth, addresses, or a variety of personal passwords – including those tied to personal bank accounts, credit and debit cards, and loan applications – then use that information for criminal purposes.
Government scams (IRS / Medicare) – Scammers pose as government officials requiring their victims to wire cash or use prepaid debit or gift cards to pay a bogus tax bill. Or they may provide sham Medicare services at makeshift mobile clinics in order to bill the insurance and pocket the money.
Granny scam – Fraudsters play to the emotions of grandparents by identifying themselves as grandchildren calling or emailing about an emergency situation. They may say, “I’ve been arrested in and need money wired quickly” or “I need cash cards for bail.”
Prize and sweepstakes fraud – Under the guise of a telemarketing call to notify the winner of a lottery or sweepstakes, the victim is told he or she must pay taxes on the jackpot via mail or wire before claiming the prize.
Sweetheart fraud –With the false promises of love and companionship, elders are conned into trusting a new “friend” that they meet in person or through socal media. The romantic partner then swindles them out of money and/or property before disappearing.
When the abusers are known
According to the 2018 Wells Fargo Elder Needs Survey, most older investors (68%) believe that a stranger would be the most likely perpetrator of financial exploitation against them. But the reality is very different – 66% of elder financial crimes are committed by family members, friends, or trusted persons.²
One typical type of financial abuse by trusted individuals includes using ATM cards and stealing checks to withdraw monies from victims’ accounts. Another type involves in-home care providers charging for services they did not provide, keeping change from errands, paying bills that don’t belong to the vulnerable adult, asking the vulnerable adult to sign falsified time sheets, spending their work time on the phone, and not doing what they are paid to do.
Where to find help
For more information on what to do if you, loved ones, and others you suspect are victims of an elder financial abuse crime go to https://www.wellsfargo.com/privacysecurity/fraud/bank-scams/.
¹Investor Protection Trust (IPT) elder Fraud Survey, 2016.
²Jewish Council for the Aging, National Center for Elder Abuse. Paley Rothman article, “Who Commits Elder Financial Abuse and Why Isn’t It Reported?” 2016.
This article was written by/for Wells Fargo Advisors and provided courtesy of Benjamin J. Chuckrow Senior Vice President – Investment Officer, Branch Manager in Albany NY 518-464-2714
Investments in securities and insurance products are: NOT FDIC-INSURED/NOT BANK-GUARANTEED/MAY LOSE VALUE
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