As people age, sometimes they don’t realize when people are taking advantage of them. Elder abuse can happen in a variety of ways. It can be scams from groups who target the elderly such as investment or lottery schemes. Elder abuse can also include identity theft, credit/debit card use and forged checks. It can even include common theft of expensive items like electronics or jewelry. Unfortunately, many times these abuses are committed by people close to the elder, someone they trust.
At Allegacy Federal Credit Union, we want to do the right thing for your wellbeing and that includes looking out for suspicious activity on your account and doing our best to verify that transactions are being performed by authorized people for valid reasons. We also want to help you know what to look for in case you, or your loved one suspect they are being taken advantage of.
Unrecognized Financial Transactions
One of the biggest red flags is if an elderly person doesn’t remember taking money out of an account. This isn’t an automatic indication of abuse as the person’s mental capacity could be diminished, but it could also be an indication that someone is making an unauthorized transaction.
Special care should be taken to safeguard the retiree’s accounts and ensure that the account holder knows that money is being withdrawn and where it’s going.
As we age, we can’t do as much as we used to. Many times that means more service workers are in the house. This could be caregivers, but it could also be housekeepers, repair contractors and others. With more people in the house, this creates an opportunity for someone to steal information, checks, credit/debit cards, jewelry, etc. Repair contractors who aren’t reputable could take advantage by using scare tactics to convince the older person that something terrible is wrong with their home that needs to be repaired.
Though family members may not always be able to be around with hired caregivers, they should try to be present when home repair contractors are explaining damages and estimates.
In the busy-ness of everyday life, it’s sometimes hard to check on our elderly relatives regularly. This leaves an opportunity for strangers to befriend the senior and gain their trust. Be sure to pay close attention to any new friendships the senior makes. Don’t be afraid to speak up if the relationship seems suspicious.
It isn’t just strangers that take advantage of our loved ones. Family members can also take advantage of elderly parents/grandparents. Relatives who live in the home have greater access to personal information. They could also convince the elderly person to transfer money to them or sign a power of attorney so they can make the decisions.
If you notice a family member with a sudden change in lifestyle, it could be time to look at how this person suddenly has more money. Are they taking it from the senior?
Many abuses go unreported until the senior is out of money or evicted from their home. Oftentimes, the elderly person doesn’t know why they don’t have money or why they are being evicted. As far as they knew, the money was there and bills were being paid. If you have a concern that an older adult or an adult with disabilities is being exploited, abused or neglected, contact your local Department of Social Services.
If your elderly relative or friend has an account at Allegacy, it’s a good idea to have them complete our Elder Contact form so that we can contact the designee if we suspect abuse on the account. Call 336.774.3400 or chat online with one of our phone agents if you have any questions about how you can help protect your loved ones.
Khalfani-Cox, L. AARP Retrieved from: http://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-2015/how-to-spot-early-warning-signs-of-elder-financial-abuse.html