Financial scammers have long targeted the elderly both for their mental/physical vulnerabilities and the fact that they are more likely to have a large nest egg used for retirement. However, in some ways the problems has worsened in recent years. That is because advances in electronic finances have raised much confusion among the elderly, making them even more likely to fall prey to those willing to take advantage of that vulnerability for their own financial gain.
A blog post at Forbes last week issued another clarion call for all local community members to be on the look-out for elder financial exploitation. The author discussed one pair of theives that tried to bilk a New York woman out of a multi-million dollar property she had owned for decades. In another local case a home care worker stole $350,000 from her client–the senior’s entire life savings.
It is important to remind all local residents that it is not just the obvious targets–seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s–who are at risk. Literally anyone can be caught, even those who have all their wits about them. As the author noted, ” My mother in law, Alice, is 90 and still very sharp. She would be hard to fool, but I know the right thief could probably do some harm if we weren’t watching closely all that goes on financially.”
Of course, there are no one-sized-fits-all approach to ensuring that those you know and care about do not fall victim to these thieves. However, the first step in any prevention strategy is education. When all financial transactions are viewed carefully, with the understanding that scams are common, then the senior is more likely to act prudently to avoid being taken advantage of. The bottom line is simple: no money should be given to others without first knowing who they are and trusting their intentions.
The Forbes article provides a list of some tips to prevent this abuse that are worth browsing in order to help ensure secure finances for seniors. The list includes things like creating a durable power of attorney and using a fiduciary to handle money matters. The more eyes looking at these details the better.
However, many seniors disdain excessive oversight. In those cases, the best bet might be to simply be available, check-in often, and follow up with any suspicions that the elder might have done something unwise financially. Also, it is important to monitor third parties upon which your senior loved ones engages in frequent contact. That includes “new friends” as well as home health care aides and others. Obviously it is important not to be over-bearing or paranoid, but there is immense value to acting prudently to ensure your loved one is able to enjoy their golden years with the trauma of mass financial exploitation.
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