Let us start with an explanation of what Elder Financial Abuse means. It is a type of elder abuse in which a caregiver or another person in a trusting relationship use the financial resources of the elderly to benefit themselves instead of the elderly person. However, elder financial abuse can cost the senior more than just money. If they have lost a substantial amount of money, they may skip meals or go without medical care to make ends meet. This could also cause them to suffer from depression and/or anxiety.There are many reasons that criminals target the elderly. But the main reason is that the older population tends to have a higher concentration of wealth than the younger population. There are several key factors that make the elderly prime targets for these criminals:
✔ Poor physical health requiring assistance with daily needs
✔ Become more trusting as they age
✔ Cognitive impairment
There are also many scams out there that specifically target the elderly. We will discuss the top 6 in this blog:
✔ Social Security Administration Scam-someone calls the victim claiming to be from the social security administration and tells them their social
security number has been suspended due to suspicious activity or that it was involved in a crime. The scammer then wants the victim to give them
their social security number to confirm. They attempt to get the victim to let them withdraw funds from their account for “safe keeping”. And
threaten that their accounts will be frozen, or they will be arrested if they do not act quickly.
✔ Tech Support Scam-someone calls the victim claiming to be from a well-known computer company. They claim they have discovered a problem with their
computer and want the victim to give them remote access to fix the problem. They claim to find an issue and want the victim to pay large sums of money
to fix the problem. Then to get even more money, they will call the victim back and tell them they are refunding the money because they no longer support
this service. They will go on to say that they refunded them too much and want the victim to initiate payment to them for the so-called overpayment.
✔ Lottery/Sweepstakes Scam-someone calls the victim stating they have won a foreign lottery or sweepstakes. Usually, the criminals present themselves as
lawyers, customs officials, or lottery representatives. They claim the victim has won money, cars, vacations, etc. But there will be fees that the victim
needs to pay for shipping, taxes, insurance, or customs first.
✔ IRS Scam-someone calls the victim claiming to be from the IRS. They tell the victim that they owe the IRS money, and it needs to be paid immediately by
wire transfer or stored value card or a warrant will be issued for their arrest.
✔ Romance Scam-people use dating sites online all the time to meet someone special. While a lot of the times this actually works, this is another place
criminals find older people to prey upon. They will convince them they need money to deal with some issue before they can come meet them in person.
✔ Grandparent Scam-someone calls pretending to be a grandchild of the elderly person. They tell them they are hurt or in trouble and need money. They ask
them to wire them money to pay a hospital bill or get them out of jail.
Financial institutions are key to fighting elder financial exploitation. The older generation tends to visit the branches more frequently than the
younger generation. They crave that social interaction. Because of this, often the front lines get a chance to know these members pretty well. Follow the FinCen Advisory link to learn about “red flags” that financial institutions can watch for to help detect elder financial abuse.
Financial institutions can also help to educate the older generation about the different scams that are out there. Especially if they do not have a trusted caregiver to help them out. Following are some good tips for the elderly:
✔ Be suspicious when someone contacts you out of the blue. Whether it is by phone or email. Take your time and do some research on the company or
individual. Do not let them pressure you. And remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
✔ Do not trust the phone numbers that show up on your caller ID. It is so easy for scammers to spoof real phone numbers.
✔ Protect your personal information. Do not give this information out to anyone over the phone or email.
✔ Talk to someone you trust (family member, caregiver, financial advisor) before making any decisions regarding your money.
✔ Always use forms of payment that can be traced-such as checks and credit cards.
✔ And if you do find that you were scammed, immediately report to your local police department.
Financial institutions should file a Suspicious Activity Report whenever they suspect possible elder financial abuse. Last year, Ohio financial institutions filed 2,986 Suspicious Activity Reports for elder financial abuse. As of the first quarter of 2021, 730 Suspicious Activity Reports were filed. The financial institution should also be reporting this activity to local authorities such as Adult Protective Services. There is one in every County and they can usually be found online. There is a national website National Adult Protective Services Association where you can get contact information for each state and even each county within that state. LeBrun Management Solutions (LMS) offers customer/member educational videos at a very low price. These can be sent directly to the customer/member or used on your websites or educational sessions. Check out LMS Consulting Homepage and let’s partner to educate in the fight against elder abuse!