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In this series, we look at a real and persistent threat facing seniors: financial fraud and scams. In this first post, we highlight some of the most common scams to be aware of. The second post will provide tips to help protect you and your loved one from fraud. We also share some resources to consult in the event you fall victim to a scam. In the third post, we look specifically at how technology is leveraged to perpetrate fraud among the elderly. Today, as everyone is home more amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, seniors rely on the internet and devices for social connection, entertainment, financial services, and food and medical deliveries.
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 financial abuse.
Every year, hundreds of thousands of seniors are abused and exploited. Elder abuse, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Community Living, is any knowing, intentional, or negligent act that causes harm or risk of harm to a vulnerable person. Often this occurs within relationships where there is an expectation of trust. Elder abuse can take many forms, including physical abuse, neglect, abandonment, and emotional abuse.
Exploitation can happen on other vectors, too. Today, we 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 warning signs of elder financial fraud. We highlight the most common scams that persist today. The goal of this post is to inform you of the risks so that you can best protect yourself and your loved one from the nefarious actors that sadly prey upon our vulnerable aging loved ones.
One of the challenges with elder financial abuse is that it can take many forms. The abuse can range from investment scams to stolen goods like jewelry to forged checks and lottery scams. The National Council on Aging (NCOA) shares a list of the top ten scams that exist today, including:
Source: Top 10 Scams Targeting Seniors, National Council on Aging
And that’s not all. Kiplingers, for example, shares other common scams today, including wire transfer scams and gift card scams.
Also complicating the situation is that often the abuse is perpetrated by people familiar to the elderly victim. The National Center on Elder Abuse reports that a whopping 90 percent of scams are committed by family members or people the victim knows well. But there are warning flags to look for to better protect yourself and your loved one. The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions shares several signs to be on the alert for, including:
Source: Warning Signs of Elder Financial Abuse, Washington State Department of Financial Institutions
In addition to watching for the above signs that signal changes in seniors’ established financial patterns, make sure to assess and consider the particular situation of your loved one. Financial scams against elders are so prevalent that the National Council on Aging considers it “the crime of the 21st century”. Seniors are often targeted because of their perceived savings and the money that resides in retirement and other accounts. They’re also targeted because of their vulnerability. AARP shares several common situations in which the elderly find themselves, and which predispose them to abuse, summarized here:
Source: How to Spot Early Warning Signs of Elder Financial Abuse, AARP
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 employ a stringent vetting process for every caregiver that we refer you to. 1+1 Cares is a referral 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.
Please get in touch with us today!
In the next post in this series, we’ll dive deeper into some tactics to protect your family. Suggestions range from being around when house repairs are scheduled or paying attention to sudden, new, or odd friendships your loved one makes. We’ll also provide a checklist of resources to consult if you or your loved one suspects fraud has occurred.
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.