Keep Yourself and Your Loved Ones Safe from Elder Financial Abuse
Financial exploitation is a form of abuse targeted towards seniors and aging older adults who are disabled and/or experiencing cognitive decline. Financial fraud targeted at elder members can range from a trusted family member or friend stealing or misusing funds, to phone or cyber scams designed to gather personal information or payments for phony goods and services. If you or someone you know is approaching their senior years, it’s important to know how to protect yourself and your loved ones from falling victim to elder financial abuse and fraud. Here are some of the common scams to be on the lookout for.
Deceitful Family Members or Caregivers
According to the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA), the majority of financial exploitation cases involve trusted persons in the life of the vulnerable adult, including family members, caregivers, friends and acquaintances, neighbors, attorneys, financial institution employees, doctors or nurses, etc. In fact, 90% of abusers are family members or trusted friends. A common abuser tactic is a family member requesting joint access to the elder member’s financial accounts or creating a new account on their behalf so that the funds are easily accessible. Other common tactics include a trusted individual manipulating the elder member into granting them Power of Attorney, or a trusted individual stealing cash or credit cards from the elder member. It’s best to keep a close eye on anyone who requests access to you or a loved one’s financial information and closely monitor finances for any suspicious activity.
The elderly are more likely to be isolated socially, thus making it easier for con artists to target them via phone scams. Elder members are more likely to answer a fraudster’s call and engage with them, not realizing that it is a scam. The fraudster may be posing as a relative who is in trouble or sick and in urgent need of money and will pressure the elder relative to send money as soon as possible. They may also pose as a representative from your financial institution in order to gather information and gain access to your financial account. Fraudsters may also pose as a representative from insurance or Medicare to request personal information such as financial account information or Social Security Numbers. Another common phone scam is alerting the elder member that they’ve won a contest or sweepstakes and must pay a fee in order to claim their prize. Keep in mind that high-pressure requests claiming to need an immediate response is an automatic red flag. Hang up and call the person or company directly to verify if the previous call was legitimate.
Social Security Scams
Social security scams are one of the leading scams that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns individuals to be on the lookout for. Please be aware that the Social Security Administration (SSA) will never call to:
- Threaten legal action or arrest
- Threaten the loss of benefits
- Ask for personal information in order to sign up for newer or better benefits
- Notify that your account has been suspended due to suspicious or criminal activity
- Inform you of a fine that must be paid through wire transfer, cash, or gift cards,
- Request your Social Security Number
If you receive an intimidating phone call, do not be pressured to act. Remember that any legitimate communication from the SSA will come as an official letter in the mail, not a phone call or an email.
Fraudulent Prescription Scams
Medication is a major expense for older adults, and scammers are all too willing to take advantage of this and enter into the business of selling fake or counterfeit prescription drugs. This not only causes victims of this heinous scam to lose money, but also puts them at risk of taking unknown or dangerous substances that may either not work at all or may result in hazardous interactions with other medications. Fraudulent drug suppliers or distributors may bill for larger quantities than what is actually received, or may bill for brand-name drugs in place of the counterfeit medication. Fraudsters may also try to dispense medication without requiring a prescription for it. They may also attempt to pawn off their fraudulent substances as miracle cures, treatments, or remedies. It’s vital to only obtain medications through licensed reputable pharmacies, and always pay attention to the appearance of the packaging and medication itself. Consult your doctor or pharmacist if you unsure of any changes in the appearance or taste of medication, and always immediately report any new or unusual side effects.
Additional Tips to Keep Yourself and Your Loved Ones Safe
Use the following information for more tips to prevent yourself and your loved ones from falling victim to financial exploitation scams:
- Don’t be afraid to talk about your finances with financial professionals or someone you trust. They may be able to offer advice that can better equip you to prevent elder financial abuse.
- Be cautious. Don’t give out any personal information over the phone or online, even if you are being asked for the information.
- Don’t be pressured into making any decisions.
- When making a life-altering decision such as changing your power of attorney, altering your will, or changing your trusts, make sure you ask for more information and talk things over with someone you trust.
- If you suspect that you or someone you love is being financial exploited, report it to us immediately. You can also file a report with local authorities.
The safety and security of our members is a top priority. Protecting your information works best when we have your help. Let’s work together to keep your accounts protected. To learn more about how we protect our members every day and how you can protect yourself, review our Security and Fraud information online, and watch our Scams and Fraud playlist on YouTube.
At Robins Financial Credit Union, our mission is to enhance the financial well-being of our members and community. We honor this commitment by providing educational content to help you make the most of your finances. Read our other blog articles to help you gain the financial knowledge you need to succeed.Learn More Security Tips