The older adult population in the United States has increased dramatically in recent years and is expected to continue to increase in the years to come. Sadly, that increase has led to a corresponding increase in elder abuse. Elder abuse occurs in several forms, including physical abuse, emotional abuse, and financial exploitation. If you are the caretaker of an older person, it is imperative that you take steps to prevent elder financial exploitation. The Beverly elder law attorneys at DeBruyckere Law offer tips to help you protect an older loved one from financial abuse.
What Is Elder Financial Abuse?
Elder financial abuse, or exploitation, can be defined very broadly as the illegal or improper use of an older person’s money or property. This type of elder abuse takes numerous forms and can occur under a wide variety of scenarios, including:
- Family members take advantage of an elder person’s diminished capacity to either cajole or outright steal money or assets.
- A caregiver who uses an elder person’s money without permission or takes property from the individual’s home.
- A family member or caregiver getting an elderly individual to sign documents under false pretenses that transfer assets to the perpetrator, either now or after the elderly person’s death.
- Targeting an elderly individual for financial scams, over the telephone, through the mail, on the computer, or even in person.
Tips to Protect Older Loved Ones
Unfortunately, older individuals make for attractive targets to those who run financial scams. The following tips can help you protect older loved ones from financial abuse:
- Educate yourself and your loved one. One reason why older individuals make such tempting victims is that they tend to be more trusting. They are also usually unfamiliar with current technology, making them easier to scam. Add to that the fact that no one wants to admit that they have been victimized, causing many seniors to remain silent. The best way to protect older loved ones is to talk about elder financial abuse and educate them about the risks.
- Remind them not to give out personal information over the phone. Predators know that the elderly tend to be more trusting. When someone calls and says they are from the bank, for example, older people are much more apt to take that claim at face value than their younger counterparts. Remind seniors to never give out a social security number, bank account information, passwords, or other personal information over the phone. If someone calls claiming to have a legitimate need for personal information, advise your loved one to insist on calling them back. Then locate an official number for the bank (or wherever they claim to be calling from) and call that number.
- Warn them about social media. The reality is that older individuals typically only have a rudimentary knowledge of how most social media platforms, such as Facebook or Twitter, operate. The privacy settings remain a mystery to the older generation. Predators are aware of this and use it to their advantage. You would be surprised at the amount of personal information a scam artist can gather just by following a victim on social media — and then using that information to scam the target. Explain to older loved ones how to limit personal information disseminated on social media and how to adjust privacy settings.
- Discourage them from allowing people inside their homes. Seniors may need help around the house; however, before letting anyone inside the house they should conduct at least a rudimentary background check. The person’s identity should be verified and if they claim to be licensed (as a healthcare worker or construction contractor for example), the appropriate licensing authority should be consulted. Offer to help check backgrounds if necessary.
Contact Beverly Elder Law Attorneys
If you have additional questions or concerns, please contact the Beverly elder law attorneys at DeBruyckere Law Offices by calling our New Hampshire office at (603) 894-4141 or our Massachusetts office (978) 969-0331 to learn more or visit our website at http://dadlawoffices.com .