According to a study conducted by cybersecurity research company Comparitech, more than 369,000 incidents of elder fraud are reported to authorities every year and are responsible for an estimated $4.84 billion in losses. However, these numbers are considered to be conservative because many incidents go unreported.
Most elder fraud experts believe that these crimes can be prevented through careful observation by family members and taking these five steps:
1. Stay involved in their life.
Many seniors feel lonely and isolated, which makes them vulnerable to fraudsters. By having a loved one stay engaged in their lives, seniors are much less likely to respond to contact from people they don’t know, and they’re more likely to tell you about any contact and interaction that has happened.
2. Watch their bank statements.
Monthly bank statements are complicated for many seniors, and they disregard them because of it. However, by checking their monthly statement, you can spot suspicious activity. Look for large withdrawals and any unusual ATM activity, particularly if the senior isn’t mobile. You can check statements monthly on the bank’s app or website.
3. Be aware of new friends and romantic interests.
A lonely senior is an excellent target for criminals. Of course, not all new friends are fraudsters but watch for things like their friend taking them to the bank or helping them with financial or estate planning.
Romance scams also continue to be on the rise. You may be unaware of what’s happening since seniors are often shy or uncomfortable discussing romance in their lives. Stay alert and watch what’s happening in your senior’s life – you can often spot observable signs of a new romantic relationship.
4. Be aware of people involved in your loved one’s finances.
Sadly, elder fraud is often committed by close friends or family members. Because of the trust they’ve established with the senior, they are in a position to handle finances and financially abuse your loved one.
Unethical friends and family members can pressure seniors into giving them large loans or financial gifts. Having a senior change a will is also a commonly used ploy by someone close to them, so beware of any appointments your loved one has already had or scheduled with an attorney.
5. Teach your loved one about online and social media fraud.
Many seniors use social media to combat loneliness and isolation. Unfortunately, many of their new “friends” are often located overseas, making them difficult to track.
Emphasize to your senior the danger of connecting online with strangers and how common it is for internet criminals not to be who they say they are. If your loved one starts sending funds via PayPal or begins wiring money through Western Union, step in and check why money is being sent and who is receiving it.
Concerned About Elder Fraud? Need Someone to Check on an Aging Loved One?
At Seniors Prefer Homecare, our caregivers are well-trained, highly qualified, and carefully selected individuals who are thoroughly screened, and insured. Most importantly, our priority is to have caregivers who are completely trustworthy and extraordinarily caring of others.
We offer a full menu of services for seniors needing care. Our caregivers provide compassionate care, whether it be just a brief check-in visit or around-the-clock care. They can also help keep an eye out for suspicious activity.
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