According to an analysis done by Comparitech, a cybersecurity research company, more than 334,000 incidents of elder financial exploitation are reported to authorities every year, resulting in an estimated $6.3 billion in losses. Because many incidents go unreported, these numbers probably underestimate the problem.
Many experts on elder fraud believe that in most cases, elder financial fraud can be prevented before it begins.
5 Steps You Can Take To Protect Vulnerable Seniors From Financial Fraud
1. Stay involved in their life.
Many seniors feel isolated and lonely, making them more vulnerable to online or offline conversations with fraudsters. By staying involved in their life, they’ll be less likely to respond to contact from unknown individuals, and they’re much more likely to tell you about contact and interaction that has occurred.
2. Check their bank statement.
Though a monthly statement is sent to the account holder, many seniors don’t look at it or have difficulty understanding it. It needs to be checked monthly for suspicious activity or checked weekly on the bank’s website or app.
Look for any large withdrawals you weren’t aware of or a series of small to medium-size ones. Also, check out ATM activity, particularly if the senior isn’t mobile and doesn’t leave their home very often.
3. Be aware of new friends and romances.
Loneliness is often a gateway for criminals. Though not all new friends are fraudsters, watch for things like the friend taking them to the bank or offering financial or estate planning assistance.
Romance scams targeting seniors are becoming increasingly common. You may not know what’s happening because older adults are often shy or feel uncomfortable discussing romantic. Staying alert and observing what’s happening in a senior’s life can provide observable warning signs that indicate a new romantic relationship.
4. Be aware of people who are close to your senior.
Sadly, financial fraud against the elderly is often committed by family members or close friends. They abuse the trust the senior has placed in them to handle their financial matters.
Unethical family members often pressure seniors to give them large financial gifts or loans. Having the senior change their will can also be a ploy used by someone close to an elder loved one.
To combat this, two family members should review the bank statements regularly to establish accountability. And, if your senior loved one has scheduled or already had a visit with an attorney, find out why.
5. Teach your senior about online and social media fraud.
Many seniors combat loneliness and isolation by chatting online with new “friends.” Many of these people are located overseas, which makes them very difficult to track.
Emphasize to your older adult the dangers of connecting online with strangers and how common it is that internet fraudsters aren’t who they say they are.
If you senior starts to send funds via PayPal or wires money through Western Union, step in and check out who’s receiving the money and why it’s being sent.
We Can Help Keep an Eye On Seniors Who Are Vulnerable to Financial Fraud
Home Instead of Southwest Florida offers a full menu of services for a loved one in need of care. We provide compassionate care, from brief check-in visits to round-the-clock care. Contact us today to see how our dependable home care in Naples, Fort Myers, and Charlotte County, FL can help your loved one.