Frequent Financial Scams

Many individuals automatically assume that issues of elder or dependent adult abuse strictly involve physical or mental abuse occurring within nursing facilities or perpetrated by in-home caregivers. Individuals see images of bed sores where patients were not rotated correctly or bruises from an abusive caregiver who became impatient with someone and beat them. These are obviously serious instances of abuse, but there is another way that elder abuse rears its ugly head: financial scams.

Scam artists have prey on the knowledge that the elderly and dependant adults are not always fully aware of their finances. These individuals often suffer from dementia or other mental diseases, leaving them with a diminished mental capacity. Scam artists play off of that reduced capacity and use it to scam these individuals out of sums of money both large and small. The examples below are some of the common schemes that criminals use to pick at elderly and dependant adults and their bank accounts.

Home Repair
A nice man in a truck just happens to drive by your home and points out a spot in the roof that needs fixing. After advancing the man a portion of his fee in cash, he disappears never to be seen again. Other examples include contractors collecting payment for work that was only partially completed thus leading to even more repairs. You should always check to make sure the contractor has a license by contacting the Contractor’s State License Board. Do not just accept the first estimate you are given but instead get additional estimates from other contractors, check references, and get copies of all estimates, work orders, and receipts in writing.

Fraudulent Solicitations or Prizes
Between email, regular mail, and telephone calls, you are hit with solicitations of all kinds. Do not agree to any offers for services or give out any personal or financial information via any of these forms of communication without first checking into the source of the communication. Even if the caller says you have to give your bank account information over the phone right now or you will not be able to collect your $5 million prize money do not volunteer the information. If you have really won something, you can collect the prize money another way.

Medicare Fraud
Always check your Medicare statements to verify the correct services were charged. If you are unable to do so, have a trusted family member or friend verify the statements. Do not give out your Medicare account information over the phone or email without first verifying the source of the request.

Investment Scams
Beware of get rich quick schemes or investment seminars with high registration fees. Make sure you ask the salesman for his or her credentials. Verify any information given to you and do not invest a penny without checking into the potential investment.

Magazine Subscriptions
Beware of magazine subscriptions with automatic renewals billed to your credit card or checking accounts. People reported large collection accounts from magazine subscriptions that built up over many years, most of which occurred when the individual being billed was no longer receiving the magazines and was instead living in a nursing home.

Credit Repair Scams
Beware of calls or letters saying there has been fraudulent activity on your credit card and they need your card number over the phone to verify the activity. Do not give your information over the phone unless you have verified it is your actual bank or credit card company calling.

Fake Charities
If the charity sounds suspicious, it might not be the best one to donate to. You can check to make sure the charity is registered with the state Attorney General’s Office or you can check with the Better Business Bureau to make sure it is a valid charity.

Real Estate Lending Scams
Watch out for home equity loans. These loans may have rates or strings attached so that they are virtually impossible to repay and can lead to foreclosure. Loan Modification scams are also more prevalent nowadays, so be sure to seek the advice of a third party when deciding whether or not to modify your existing mortgage.

It is important for elders, dependant adults, and their loved ones to keep a vigilant watch out for all types of abuse whether it is physical, emotional, or financial. Many of these financial schemes can lead to foreclosure or personal bankruptcy. Both of these situations effectively eliminate elderly individuals’ ability to look after themselves. This may then lead to mental anguish, shame, and depression. This type of abuse may start as a hit to the pocketbook, but it can result in complete disability.

See Our Related Blog Posts:
Post Hospital Issues: Hospitalization-Associated Disability
Recognizing and Avoiding Elder Financial Abuse