According to The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Office of Financial Protection for Older Americans, “Since 2013, financial institutions have reported to the federal government over 180,000 suspicious activities targeting older adults, involving more than $6 billion. These reports indicate that financial exploitation of older adults by scammers, family members, caregivers, and others is widespread in the United States.”
Elder financial exploitation occurs when an older person’s funds, property, or assets are misused. The exploitation might be committed by family members, or even by offshore scammers. According to studies, financial abuse is the most prevalent form of elder mistreatment, although only a tiny fraction of occurrences are reported.
Elder fraud often takes the form of fraudulently obtaining personal information such as social insurance numbers and credit card numbers to set up new accounts under their victims’ names. The fraudsters then engage in various tactics such as identity theft by opening credit card accounts in their victims’ names, stealing money from those accounts. The risk of older adults being taken advantage of is further exacerbated by the fact that many older adults have little experience with financial transactions involving credit cards, debit cards, computer banking, etc., often do not feel confident with online banking and transactions. In a survey conducted in 2011 by AARP, over half of respondents cited fear of technology as a reason for not using online financial services.
Some important tips to protecting yourself or an elderly loved one:
– Make sure you have a trusted person or institution who can assist you in keeping your financial affairs in order, and make sure they know how to reach you in case there is anything that requires your attention.
– Review your credit report at least annually. This is an important step in keeping track of credit being issued in your name.
– Keep informative documents such as bank account statements, tax returns, insurance policies together in a secure location.
– Monitor bank accounts and credit card statements, and make sure to check for any suspicious activity (i.e., unfamiliar purchases or withdrawals).
Remember that it is never too late to take action; if you have concerns about your financial well-being or that of a loved one, call Roth Elder Law, PLLC today at (607) 962-6162 for a consultation.