Spotting Senior Financial Abuse

Spotting Senior Financial Abuse

Seniors are always ripe targets for financial scams and fraud, but most scam artists aren’t necessarily targeting strangers – they’re scamming their own relatives. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, approximately 90 percent of seniors who experience financial fraud and abuse are being defrauded by people close to them, such as children, grandchildren, neighbors, and friends.

Spotting senior financial abuse can be difficult. Sometimes they are unaware that they’re being manipulated and exploited; other times they know something isn’t right, but they’re too afraid to address the concern. Here are a few signs that a senior could be potential target or the victim of financial abuse.

The senior is physically frail and has limited mobility.

Seniors who rarely leave the house and who struggle to get around their home unassisted are often targeted for certain home repair and service scams. Since they are physically incapable of going outside and checking on the progress of repairs that they’re funding, they don’t necessarily know if those repairs are even being done.

If a senior is having any kind of home repair performed, it is a good idea to have a trusted friend, relative, or caregiver oversee the work to make sure everything is above-board.

Family is behaving suspiciously.

When certain family members try to keep caregivers or other relatives away from a senior (especially when that senior has given no indication that they do not want to see other members of the family), it could be because the family member who is trying to keep the senior isolated is actually manipulating them, and doesn’t want any outside influence affecting their scam. Also, if a relative moves in with the senior and doesn’t appear to work or have any other means of support, it could be because that relative is extorting funds.

The senior is unaware of their own financial situation.

Any time a senior’s awareness diminishes significantly, that senior becomes severely at-risk for financial fraud. Unscrupulous family members and acquaintances exploit the fact that the senior’s recall is compromised, so the senior failing to remember a major financial transaction doesn’t seem suspicious. The finances of the senior in these circumstances should be scrutinized by a financial professional.

While 94 percent of people over the age of 65 state that they would report elder abuse if they were victimized, in practice, only 1/44 cases of financial elder abuse are reported. It is critically important for caregivers who notice financial elder abuse to come forward and report what they’ve seen.

If you see signs of elder abuse, contact the proper authorities immediately (law enforcement, and agencies dedicated to protecting victims of elder abuse).

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