Elder abuse or fraud, as defined by the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, is any type of fraud that targets older adults attempting “to deceive with the promises of goods, services or financial benefits that do not exist, were never intended to be provided, or were misrepresented.” According to a study by the MetLife Mature Market Institute, elder financial abuse costs older Americans an average of more than $2.6 billion annually.
Seniors are often “prime targets” for scammers because many have retirement savings and equity in their homes. Fortunately, there are a number of things seniors and their family can do to reduce their chances of falling prey to elder financial abuse.
- Always take the time to fully understand any choice you are making, and if you are unsure of anything, don’t hesitate to ask questions. The more you know, the more confident you can be in any decision you are making.
- Keep good records of all of your expenses and where your money is going. Shred any receipts or documents with personal information that you do not intend to keep.
- Don’t share your personal information with anyone. In the event that you are required to share your information, make sure you are familiar with and trust the person, business or organization you are dealing with.
- Be an informed consumer. When speaking with someone over the phone, request written information before committing to any offer or charity. Always obtain the name of the salesperson, the company’s name, phone number, business address and license number, and verify the information before doing business with them.
- Don’t let yourself be bullied into making any decisions you are not ready to make. It’s okay to explore your options.
Another unconventional way to protect oneself from fraud: stay active in your community. An unfortunate truth, according to the National Council on Aging, is that over 90 percent of reported elder financial abuse is committed by family members.
If you think you or a loved one has been the victim of fraud, it is important to report it. Call your bank or credit card company immediately and cancel any accounts or cards that may have been compromised. If necessary, seek legal assistance. The Department of Health and Human Services sponsors an Eldercare Locator that can help you find services to help you through the process.
For many seniors, one reason for considering a move to a senior care community is to live a worry-free lifestyle with a higher sense of security. They also provide the opportunity to be around others who have similar interests and make a new network of friends.
Concordia Lutheran Ministries has offered senior care in western PA for over 130 years. For more information on what we offer at each of our locations and levels of care, visit our website or call our corporate headquarters at 724-352-1571. You can also message us through the Contact form on our website 24 hours a day.