Helping Seniors Avoid Scams and Financial Elder Abuse
Consumer Reports explains that “financial elder abuse, in which a senior citizen is coerced, bullied, or tricked into relinquishing hard-earned assets, is the most common form of elder abuse and the fastest growing.” AARP reports that the average loss by a victim of financial exploitation is $120,000. More than 3,630 cases of elder exploitation were reported across Ohio in the fiscal year 2018, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services data.
Senior citizens are often the targets of scams and fraud. The FBI states that the reason senior citizens are targeted is that they are most likely to have savings and excellent credit. Also, people of this age group are generally trusting and polite because of the era in which they grew up. In addition, this group rarely reports fraud because they feel ashamed, don’t know who to report it to, or are embarrassed.
According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners and the National Council on Aging, the top 10 scams which target the elderly demographics are
scams involving obtaining Medicare identification numbers
scams that offer cheap prescription pills that are useless
scams using vulnerabilities following funerals and asking relatives to pay a fraudulent debt
scams capitalizing on funeral costs
scams that offer fraudulent anti-aging products that are ineffective
phone scams that solicit money
scams involving the internet such as downloading fake anti-virus software
scams involving phishing emails and bank information
fraudulent home assessment letters
the fraudulent home repair offers
sweepstakes and lotteries
scams involving a person pretending to be a grandchild
How can you best prevent scams that target senior citizens? First, be a friend and don’t allow a senior citizen to become isolated. When caregivers, relatives, and friends are present in a person’s life, scams are easier to spot because you are observing a senior citizen’s decisions and behaviors.
Second, block out all solicitations. Call the Direct Marketing Association and eliminate mail that is not bills. Use a third-party call blocking service to reduce robocalls. Also, eliminate unsolicited credit offers by utilizing optoutscreen.com.
Monitor all caregivers of elderly individuals. Often, caregivers can become confident that they deserve more due to their work requirements. By offering some time away from their job, caregivers become more grateful for their employment.
Make sure you have safeguards in place wherever your elderly relative banks. It is suggested that a small checking account be set up with a limit of $500.00 while other funds are kept and monitored in a savings account. This keeps your relative’s funds secure from fraudsters and also protects them from large amounts of money being stolen. Also, ask your bank if they have any alerts available to check for fraud and suspicious activities.
Most recently, Governor Kasich and the legislature have increased financial penalties for scammers who steal from elderly individuals. For more information on adult protective services available in Ohio, visit Ohio’s Administrative Code, Chapter 5101:2-20.
James Schroeder is an attorney licensed to practice in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia focusing on real estate, estate planning, business and nonprofit law. He maintains offices in Sardinia Ohio and Egg Harbor City New Jersey. You may reach him at (973) 886-4563 or (609) 270-7590. Most of his clients come from Sardinia, Mount Orab, Georgetown, Russellville, West Union, Peebles and Seaman in Ohio and Egg Harbor City, Hammonton, Port Republic, Galloway and Mullica Township in New Jersey but if you are from anywhere in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia can call to discuss your legal issues.