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In this series, we look at a real and persistent threat facing seniors: financial fraud and scams. In the first post, we shared some of the most common scams to be aware of. This second post provides tips to help protect you and your loved one from fraud. This includes several resources to consult in the event you fall victim to a scam. In the upcoming third post, we’ll look specifically at how technology is leveraged to perpetrate fraud among the elderly abuse.
At 1+1 Cares, we know that the aging journey is challenging, beautiful, and complex. As the adult children and family of aging loved ones, we all try our best to ensure that our seniors are comfortable, cared for, and engaged. But there’s one real and persistent threat that is often neglected until it’s too late: elder abuse.
Elder abuse can take many forms, including physical abuse, neglect, abandonment, and emotional abuse. Today, we also, unfortunately, see far too many cases of elder financial abuse. This is the illegal taking, misuse, or concealment of funds, property, or other assets of a senior, for the benefit of someone else. According to AARP and the National Adult Protective Services Association, most cases of elder financial abuse go unreported—only 1 in 44 cases are ever reported.
In this post, we share some of the measures you can take to protect your loved one. We also share several resources to consult in the event your family member is the victim of a financial scam.
What complicates the situation is that often elder financial abuse is perpetrated by someone familiar to the victim. A whopping 90 percent of scams are committed by someone the victim knows well. Scammers can be (or pose as):
It paints quite a scary picture. However, the good news is that there are preventative, protective measures you can take. There are also resources to help your loved one recover should they fall victim to a scam.
The threat of elder financial abuse is especially present now, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Your loved one may be cut off from people who previously ensured protection from these scams. On top of this, many bank branches remain closed. People are shifting from in-person financial services to online or remote support. This can complicate things, especially if navigating the internet and digital or mobile technologies is new to your loved one.
In general, the best thing you and your loved can do is be proactive, organized, and aware. In knowing what scams to look for—and what to do if you suspect a scam—you can best safeguard your loved one.
The National Council on Aging shares eight tips to help protect your loved one from elder financial abuse. We encourage you to share this information with your family. These tips are summarized here:
If you or your loved one does, unfortunately, fall victim to elder financial abuse, consider turning to one of these resources for help. Encourage your family member to communicate these concerns or activities with you and other trusted family members. Often, seniors may feel afraid or embarrassed to talk about this. Some may fear retaliation or a loss of independence if they report a suspected scam. Denial or confusion can also hinder this important conversation.
Remind them that they are not alone. It’s a real and scary threat, and there are people out there who can help.
NOTE: Depending on the severity or situation, don’t hesitate to contact local police officials before consulting some of these resources. They may even be able to connect you with the proper local authorities for follow-up.
TIP: Be wary of “emergencies”. Scammers often claim an emergency or “fleeting offer” and will pressure your loved one to act quickly, without thinking. The same can be true of charities that form too quickly following a natural disaster or current event.
Money Smart for Older Adults is a resource from the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection. In it are several activities that you or a caregiver could do with your loved one. Each activity focuses on a specific threat (like telephone or charity scams). Here’s an example:
Your loved one might currently have an in-home caregiver who provides as-needed services or live-in or 24-hour care. One of the most effective ways to ensure that the caregiver does not engage in elder financial abuse is through careful vetting. If you’re currently exploring your in-home caregiving options, keep this critical consideration in mind. Be sure to ask if your caregiver carries the proper liability insurance and can provide extensive references. Not all agencies will offer this, especially if you go with a stand-alone or private-found care provider. It’s a critical step, but it can be time-consuming and challenging.
1+1 Cares proactively seeks to prevent elder financial abuse among the qualified caregivers we refer. We take critical measures to safeguard your loved ones. At 1+1 Cares, we are your ally and a line of defense against elder financial abuse. We have a stringent vetting process for every caregiver that we refer you to. 1+1 Cares is a referral platform and service for home care assistance, meaning that we screen every interested caregiver and do an end-to-end background check on everyone. To be included in our referral service, caregivers must have a minimum of two years of experience or one year with CNA/HHA. For further security and protection, we do a criminal background check and also verify:
We also do face-to-face interviews (or virtual face-to-face, these days) to ensure that every caregiver who is included in our referral service is a solid partner not just for 1+1 Cares, but for you.
We hope that this post provides some helpful information about elder financial abuse. The health, safety, and wellbeing of your loved one are of utmost concern to the entire 1+1 Cares team. This includes the qualified caregivers we refer you to. At 1+1 Cares, we aim to make this process easy and affordable. Referring you to a qualified caregiver is our way to relieve some of your stress and uncertainty. This includes protecting your loved one from financial fraud and other scams.
OUR FINAL TIP: Why not print a copy of this post and keep it in an accessible place? This way, your family or a trusted caregiver will be better prepared to take action, should you need to.
Please get in touch with us today!
In the next and final post in this series, we’ll look specifically at how technology is leveraged to perpetrate fraud among the elderly.
1+1 Cares by serving as a family’s caregiving concierge. 1+1 Cares is a unique platform that synergizes premium service, qualified caregivers, and affordable rates. By empowering families to make the right decisions, 1+1 Cares makes in-home care affordable and accessible. 1+1 Cares about you.