Financial elder abuse is becoming much too common. These days, the internet, email, and cell phones make it all too easy for criminals to scam elderly, unsuspecting people. The National Center on Elder Abuse reports that seniors lose an estimated $2.9 billion annually to financial abuse and scams.
As people age, they become more vulnerable to being taken advantage of financially. Factors such as dementia or diminished mental capacity play a part in that. Knowing this, how can you protect your elderly parents or relatives?
Know what scams are out there
Educate yourself to recognize the many types of financial scams used on the elderly. These include:
- Telemarketing Scams run the gamut from calling to tell you that you’ve won sweepstakes to asking for charitable donations for non-existent charities.
- Cemetery/funeral home scams happen more often than they should. Scammers read the obituaries looking for victims. They will call a grieving widow and tell her that her spouse has an outstanding debt and demand payment. Grief can make a person vulnerable, and they may just hand over the information without processing what is happening.
- Medicaid/Medicare/Healthcare insurance fraud. All of the rules, regulations and red tape involved in healthcare insurance can be overwhelming for seniors. Scammers take advantage of this by posing as representatives for Medicare and other companies. These people will say anything to get their victim to give them their social security numbers and other pertinent personal information. Once they have it, they’ll file a false claim with the healthcare company and collect the payout.
If your elderly parent or relative has fallen victim to any of these scams, talk to the police right away. You’ll also want to contact an experienced legal guide to assist you in any legal issues that may arise.