Financial Abuse of the Elderly - Yes, It's A Thing
Seniors Beware, financial predators are everywhere! Well, actually everyone has to be aware. Financial predators attack people of all ages.
Let's face it, since the dollar bill came into existence, people have wanted to get it in shady ways. OK, OK, you're right. Back when folks were bartering chickens and beans, people found ways to swindle others. It's a life lesson that we've learned early. Unfortunately, it continues into today and the great technology that has been discovered (the internet and cellphone) makes it easier. But there's good news! We have the ability to be smarter and we simply have to educate ourselves to get there!
That is exactly why we have designed this guide for you. You're going to learn:
- The different types of scams that are out there
- What to do if you are targeted by a financial predator
- How to avoid being targeted by financial predators
This guide is going to focus on financial abuse of the elderly. However, to be thorough, we want to briefly touch on all of the different types of abuse that seniors may encounter.
Feel free to keep this guide saved on your cell phone or desktop for easy reference.
Different Types of Elderly Abuse
Just to be clear, there is financial abuse as well as other abuses that occur in family relationships.
The National Council on Aging says that 60% of elder abuse is perpetrated by a family member. Of that number, 2/3 of the perpetrators are the seniors' adult children or their own spouses.
Financial abuse of the elderly is not the only type of abuse that seniors face at the hands of family members or themselves. According to nursinghomeabusecenter.com, there are other ways that the elderly are abused. Other types of abuse that the elderly are subjected to include:
- Physical abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Sexual abuse
Unfortunately, we've all heard about the elderly being abused by family members. These family members include:
- Children - (biological children or stepchildren)
- Adult grandchildren
If you feel like you're being victimized by a loved one, it's important to contact:
- A friend or another loved one that you can trust
- Law enforcement
- A social worker or another trustworthy professional
- An elder abuse attorney
This abuse can occur with seniors who are dependent or even independent seniors. Seniors who are suffering from dementia, Alzheimer's or some other illness that involves memory or intellectual capacity are more likely to become victims of elder abuse.
The financial abuse that occurs within a family relationship is not the financial abuse we are going to discuss in this guide.
This guide is going to highlight financial abuse by someone that you are not related to.
Financial Abuse of the Elderly - You Don't Have To Be Rich
Who Gets Abused?
Because financial abuse of the elderly occurs so often, many hospitals and healthcare organizations have put out valuable information for seniors. New York Presbyterian Hospital issued a bulletin with extensive information on Elder abuse. According to this report, seniors or anyone aged 60 or older are considered elderly. Victims of financial elder abuse are of varying economic backgrounds – that means you don't have to be rich. Low, middle and high income elderly are subjected to elderly abuse. People of all ethnic and religious backgrounds find themselves abused, unfortunately.
If you have been a victim or someone attempted to scam you, you are not alone. According to the National Council on Aging, in 2021 there were 92,371 victims of fraud. Those victims lost $1.7 billion. Unfortunately, some of these funds cannot be reclaimed. That means the money is lost forever.
These fraudsters took advantage of the pandemic. From 2020 to 2021, there was a 74% increase in lost money for elderly victims of financial abuse.
Who Are the Abusers?
The people commonly coming up with these schemes are con artists who may believe that senior citizens have had more time to save money and put it in the bank. Another reason that criminals often target senior citizens is because many financial scams do not get reported. They are also difficult cases to prosecute. As a result, the criminal thinks that a financial scam targeting a senior is a "low risk" crime.
Being Able To Report A Financial Predator Takes Quality Communication
If you are victimized by a financial predator, speak up! Don't let them get away with your funds because you may be suffering from a little embarrassment. These people are really good at what they do. Don't be ashamed. Contact someone to let them know you've been victimized. Having a free cell phone from EASY Wireless can help you do that.
Don't think that you can't afford the convenience of a cell phone.
EASY Wireless is in business to work with those who have a low income and may not be able to afford a cell phone. Working with the Affordable Connectivity Program or ACP, EASY Wireless has free programs to help you get your hands on a free cell phone. These cell phone programs come with free Internet!
In today's world, a cell phone is a necessity for contacting healthcare providers, emergency services, loved ones and friends. Don't miss out!
The Top 5 Financial Abuse Scams
The National Council on Aging compiled a list of the top five financial scams that target seniors.
1. Government impersonation – this particular scam is usually a fraudulent phone call to an innocent senior. The impersonator says they are from the Social Security Administration, Medicare, or the Internal Revenue Service. The impersonator may say they need personal identifying information like your date of birth, Social Security number, address, etc. They can use this information to commit identity theft.
The impersonator may say that you have unpaid taxes, fees or some other financial burden. The impersonator goes on to say that you must make payment immediately or you will be arrested or deported.
These fraudsters are very clever. Sometimes they have a ZIP code or area code from Washington DC or some other appropriate information. This makes the unsuspecting senior feel that maybe the call is real.
People using this scam may ask for payment in cash or wire transfer or a card, a prepaid debit card.
2. Scams involving a sweepstakes or lottery win – someone calls an innocent senior and says that they have won the lottery or won a sweepstakes. The only catch is that they must send money, gift cards, or cash upfront for the "supposed taxes and processing fees".
The people who use this scam to take innocent seniors' money impersonate people from popular organizations like the publishers' clearing house or a state lottery. Unfortunately, sometimes these impersonators are so convincing that seniors send them two or three amounts of money at different times. The criminals tell their victims that their prize will be coming soon.
3. Robo calls and other phone scams. Robocalls are great technology when they are used for the right reasons. The technology behind the Robocall is an automated phone technology that dials large amounts of households – maybe thousands of households to get information. Unfortunately, many people have used the Robocall to steal money from innocent seniors.
Some Robocall frauds include a person asking "can you hear me?” When the senior says "yes", the fraudster tapes their voice and then hangs up. Now the fraudster has your voice recorded. They can use that as a voice signature. Voice signatures can be used to authorize unwanted charges on stolen credit cards.
There are dozens of Robocalls that are fraudulent. An example of another scam that uses Robocall technology is the "impending lawsuit" scam. The senior citizen gets a scary call from someone stating that they are a law-enforcement agency or some other type of authority. They actually frighten senior citizens by saying if they don't pay a fine by a certain time they will be arrested or sued for committing a made-up offense.
Another type of Robocall is the call that a warranty is about to expire for their car, an appliance or an electronic device. Payment must be made immediately in order to protect the warranty on the item.
Much like the government impersonation calls that were mentioned earlier, Robocalls can "spoof" a phone number that looks legitimate.
Spoofers can deliberately have false information displayed on your caller ID display. They can use an area code that you are familiar with or the number of a government agency. The Federal Communications Commission has a click through that you can use to learn about spoofing and how to avoid being scammed.
4. Computer tech support scams – these particular types of crimes take advantage of an older person's supposed lack of tech-savvy. Some seniors are extremely tech-savvy and can avoid this particular scam. However, many seniors and, by the way, many adults don't have extensive technical knowledge. As a result, this particular scam takes advantage of that. What generally happens is a pop-up message or completely blank screen will appear on the seniors' computer or cell phone. This message will inform the senior person that their phone or computer is damaged and needs repair right away.
5. Coming in at number five on our list is the grandparent fraud scheme - This is one of the worst scams because it actually tugs at the victims' heart strings. A criminal/scammer calls a senior victim and they say something very similar to “Hi, Grandma, do you know who this is?" The innocent senior tries to place the voice to a name and actually says one of the grandchildren's names. Then the criminal begs the grandparent for money. They say that they have to pay their rent or they have to get out of jail, or they need money for car repairs. They usually ask a grandparent not to tell anyone about their need for money. The criminals asked the grandparent to use a gift card or a money transfer in order to send the funds. These forms of payment usually don't require identification so they will be able to get the money.
This scam is also linked to another version. A criminal may call a grandparent saying that they are a doctor, lawyer, or they have just arrested the grandchild. They manipulate the grandparent into sending money.
These Didn't Make the Top 5. But These Are Some Other Financial Abuse of the Elderly Scams That You Should Avoid
The National Council on Aging also gives us an idea of some miscellaneous financial abuse of the elderly scams that are out there.
Romance scams or sweetheart scams – this scam takes advantage of the popularity of online dating. These criminals go through great lengths and create fake profiles on social media. Sometimes these criminals are indeed overseas or lie and say they are overseas. They ask for money to pay for their traveling visa, travel expenses or for medical emergencies.
Scams involving COVID-19 – with the endemic on the horizon, these scams are going out of fashion. However, the National Council on Aging reports that the Federal Trade Commission has already logged in more than 500,000 consumer complaints involving COVID-19 and stimulus payments.
Investment scams – These scammers call seniors and try to sell stocks, bonds, digital assets like bitcoin or cryptocurrency. The criminals state that the victims will get a low risk or guaranteed return on their money. Thousands of people have fallen victim to these scams and in 2021, it is reported that there were over 5,100 complaints.
Medicare and other health insurance company schemes – Unfortunately, since every American over the age of 65 pre-qualifies for Medicare, many people targeting seniors use this fact as a way to get in. The con artist states that they are Medicare representatives and the senior begins to share their personal information. Some of these criminals are on top of the latest news and medical research and try to use that to their benefit. Reports state that some of the criminals provide bogus services for seniors at pretend makeshift mobile clinics. These scammers then try to bill Medicare or pocket the money.
Internet and email fraud is an extensive part of financial abuse of the elderly - Some criminals fool victims into downloading a fake antivirus program. Others may actually infect the victim’s computer with a software virus that then leaves the victim's personal information exposed to scammers.
Phishing emails and text messages – everyone has seen these emails and text messages, but sometimes they specifically target seniors. You're browsing through your email and you see a message from a well-known bank, Credit Card Company or maybe even a retail store. They ask for your personal data and they use that to get more information. They may use the information to take money from an accessible account.
What to Do If You Are the Victim
The Federal Communications Commission reminds us that you can always file a complaint with them. In addition to telling a loved one. You can call the National Elder Fraud hotline at 833-372-8311. You can report tech-support scams to the Federal Bureau of Investigation or FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center.
Telephone scams can be reported to the federal trade commission.
Federal communications commission
If you've been a victim of identity theft, you can contact the Federal Trade Commission and file a report with your local police department.
Victims of medical identity theft can contact you can contact your Senior Medicare Patrol or SMP. You can find how to get help in your state.
All things lead to the eldercare locator. Keep this handy and rapport and learn how to deal with different types of financial abuse of the elderly. If you have a question about anything, you can start an online chat or give the eldercare locator a call at 1-800-677-1116. You can even email the eldercare locator and they will be able to give you information on how to get the help you need
Know That You Have a Friend at EASY Wireless
Having a free smart phone with Internet service will give you the necessary lifeline to get help for anything life throws your way. Take a look at their website, find out if you qualify for one of their programs. Chances are if you qualify for:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP
- Veterans and survivors pension benefit
..you may qualify for free Internet and free cell phone service.
Be careful, be aware and enjoy your golden years. Know that you're really smarter than any criminal. If you have a question, before you give out your information - stop, think about it and if it doesn't sound right it probably isn't right
If It Quacks Like a Duck Sounds Like a Duck, Then Most Likely, It's a Duck!
Now you know some of the most popular scams and what to do if you are victimized.