Every American could become a victim of financial abuse during this lifetime. However, the elderly are more at risk than younger generations. Today, 70 percent of the nation’s wealth is held by individuals 50 years of age or older, and criminals are devising new ways to relieve them of this wealth. In fact, financial abuse of the elderly now costs victims billions of dollars every year.
This crime may be committed by a complete stranger or it might be a loved one who is taking advantage of the senior. However, the crime often deprives the elderly of necessary resources and possibly their independence. For this reason, one can never be too cautious when it comes to protecting assets. Following are some tips and you can read more here to help safeguard loved ones against this crime which is becoming all too common.
Purchase Medications From Trusted Sources
Rising medical costs leave countless seniors unable to obtain medications they need to enjoy a full and healthy life. As a result, many elderly individuals look for ways to cut down on these costs. They may see an ad during their favorite TV show announcing a new health care card that will help them save money. They call to sign up for this card only to discover their personal information has been stolen and someone is now using their identity.
Others look for cheaper prices on their regular medications using the internet only to learn that the medications were nothing but placebos and their health is failing as a result. Before taking steps such as these, the senior should speak to a doctor to determine if these services are legitimate. Furthermore, people of any age should never sign a blank insurance claim form or provide insurance and Medicare information to anyone other than those who are providing medical care.
Use Cash Sparingly
Pay with check or credit card whenever possible. This offers the senior an added layer of protection in the event of fraudulent use. There is no way to track cash purchases, but law enforcement may be able to determine who used a credit card or check without the owner’s permission. In addition, many banks will now refund money when a credit card has been used fraudulently or when a check is written after the owner has reported it stolen.
Shred Sensitive Information Although it would be nice to simply throw important documents in the trash, they need to be shredded now. Criminals have been known to dig through a person’s trash to gain access to confidential information. Gaining access to this information is much more difficult when the papers have been shredded. Make it easy for the loved one to shred documents by placing a shredder right next to where he or she goes through the mail or pays bills.
Never Send Money to a Stranger
Criminals often post ads on the internet trying to get people to send them money. They claim the individual needs to send money in order to collect a prize they have won or something of that nature. Never send money to someone that is unfamiliar to the senior. This is a scam and the money will never be seen again. If there is any doubt as to the validity of a claim such as this, the person should request more information and verify before taking any further action.
Protect Against Scammers
Criminals love to take advantage of the elderly. They consider them to be good targets for a wide range of reasons. However, steps can be taken to protect a family member from being exploited this way. First, sign them up for the Do Not Call Registry. This may be done online or by calling 888-382-1222. In the event the loved one has already become a victim of Social Security fraud, help them call Social Security at 800-269-0271 to report it.
Furthermore, repeatedly remind them they should never share personal information over the phone unless they are the one who initiated the call. This includes their Medicare information, social security number, a credit card or banking details. Criminals don’t need much to access and take over a person’s identity, so it’s always best to be cautious and provide little information if any. Be sure to have them ask for a call back number if someone does request this type of information. They can then ask a family member for help in contacting the organization to see if the call was legitimate.
Finally, be sure the elderly individual knows never to sign a document without having it reviewed by a third party. This might be a trusted family member, an attorney, a financial advisor or another person the aging adult knows he or she can count on to provide accurate information. Ensure they know not to sign a blank document either, as they don’t know what this document will be used for.
When an elderly person is isolated, they become more willing to talk to anyone who will listen. Spend time with loved ones who are getting old so they don’t feel as if they are alone in this world and have nobody who cares. An elderly person who lacks a strong social network is more at risk of being financially exploited as well as abused or neglected. Every family and community should be working to support older members, and all this requires is staying in touch with them.
Take the time to stop by and say hello or create a group where they can meet and watch a movie or discuss a book they have read. Delivering meals to the elderly is another way to ensure older adults interact socially. Work with others in the family and the community to come up with additional ways to ensure every elderly person in the area has someone to turn to when they wish to talk or need advice on something.
Talk to elderly family members about their finances. Personal information does not need to be disclosed at this time by any party. However, seniors need to be aware of the steps they can take to protect their assets. The more one knows, the easier it becomes to achieve this goal.