As people age, they become increasingly vulnerable to various kinds of fraud—due to factors including declining health, social isolation, and the onset of dementia and other cognitive issues.
If you believe your parent or elderly loved one is the target of financial abuse, there are concrete steps you can take to protect them. And the first step is recognizing the problem.
Elder financial abuse can take many forms. These include:
Fraud Perpetrated by Strangers
Fraudulent lotteries and sweepstakes. Fraudsters may call and tell the victim that they won a lottery, and there’s prize money waiting for them. The catch? The victim has to send in money first to pay taxes on what they won.
Law enforcement impersonation. In this scheme, a scammer calls a senior impersonating a law enforcement agent. They may tell the senior they violated some traffic rule and owe a fine, or that a family member has been arrested and needs bail money.
Fake charities. In this common scenario, the perpetrator will call a senior pretending to be from a charity, and ask for a donation.
IRS scams. Scammers may call seniors claiming to be from the IRS, telling the senior they’re behind on their taxes, haven’t paid taxes, or have committed some tax-related crime—and demand payment.
Impersonation of family members. Some scammers call the elderly and pretend to be a family member—such as a child or grandchild. They’ll ask for money to deal with an unplanned financial emergency.
Email scams. “Phishing” scams involve sending an email from a legitimate-sounding organization asking the senior to verify sensitive personal information. This is often the beginning of identity theft.
Fraud from Trusted Professionals
Financial institutions. Bank employees have been known to steer seniors toward loans with high interest rates, questionable annuities, reverse mortgages, and other investments that make the bank a lot of money—but are not in the senior’s best interests.
Healthcare providers. Doctors may convince elderly patients to pay for procedures or medications they do not need. Nurses and home health aides who work in the victim’s home may have access to their money, property, and credit cards and take advantage of the elderly (and their generosity).
Nursing home staff. There have been extensive examples of financial abuse within nursing homes—such as cashing residents’ checks without permission; coercing residents to change wills against their wishes; or outright theft of money or possessions.
Exploitation from Caretakers, Friends, and Family Members
Power of attorney fraud. Sometimes, family members or caretakers use their power of attorney to gain control over the victim’s money or property and then take advantage of the individual “legally” by violating their fiduciary duty to that person.
Check or bank card fraud. Those close to an elderly person—often live-in caretakers—can gain access to the victim’s checks, credit cards, or debit card without permission. Banks should prevent this kind of fraud, but they are not always effective at spotting it.
New “friendship.” A scammer may befriend a senior, and then ask for money to cover periodic “emergencies.” The difficult thing is that the senior often willingly gives the money—and the scammer may be playing on the senior’s declining mental faculties.
Threats and physical abuse. In some cases, a caretaker might physically abuse or intimidate an elderly victim into giving them money, access to accounts, checks, or financial “gifts”; changing their will; or signing over other aspects of their financial life under duress.
Neglect or withholding of necessary care. The caretaker may coerce the victim into handing over money, assets, or passwords in other ways, such as withholding or threatening to withhold food, medications, and other necessities.
How Can You Help an At-Risk Loved One?
Protecting an elderly loved one from financial abuse can be a complex endeavor. A lot depends on the person’s living situation, mental capacities, power of attorney, and other factors.
At The Taylor Law Group, we have extensive experience helping extricate elderly people from abusive financial situations. We can also work with you to lay a strong foundation for financial protection before your loved one needs it.
Steps we can take include:
Preventive protections. We work with seniors and their families to set protections in place that impact estate planning, housing planning and power of attorney.
Guardianship. If your elderly loved one is medically or mentally incapacitated, we’ll help you choose a trustworthy guardian and establish a framework to keep the senior and their assets secure.
Aggressive litigation. With an outstanding track record of success, we are more than capable of defending your elderly loved one’s interests in court—and getting the restitution they deserve if they were a victim of fraud.
Call us at (678) 738-0056. Your consultation is free—and our team is available 24/7 to help you.