What is Elder Financial Abuse?
“Financial exploitation” means the illegal, unauthorized, or fraudulent use, or deprivation of use, of the property of a vulnerable adult with the intention of benefiting someone other than the vulnerable adult. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, financial exploitation of older adults is one of the most reported forms of elder abuse.
The National Council on Aging (NCOA) estimates that such abuse costs older adults around $2.6 billion to $36.5 billion annually. This problem is expected to increase in the coming years as the older population grows.
By 2030, people 65 years of age and older will constitute 21% of the total U.S. population. Senior citizens aged 85 and older rank as one of the fastest-growing populations in the country, growing from 4 million in 2000 to 21 million by 2050. As a result, elder financial abuse is a growing problem and deserves more scrutiny. Remember, scammers are constantly evolving their tactics, so staying informed and vigilant is crucial in protecting your finances and personal information.
20 Ways to Avoid Financial Scams
– don’t click on links or open attachments from sources that you are not familiar with or are not expecting to be sent to you.
– if you get a message from your bank asking you to confirm details of your account or to log in, call your bank and make sure it is a legitimate message before taking action.
– beware of messages asking you “do me a favor” or that someone in your family is being held hostage overseas.
– if a company is calling you and asking you vital information to your account like username, security questions or to provide account specific details, hang up and call the company back to make sure that call was legit. Most companies will not call you and ask for account information over the phone.
– do not respond to random messages or emails from Fed Ex, Amazon, or other delivery services asking you to confirm shipping of an item.
– if you are considering purchasing something and the person you are talking to is pushing you to make a quick decision and stressing the urgency of the transaction. That is a red flag and you should stop and think about what you are about to purchase and review the company you are dealing with.
– calls from someone acting as if they are with a government agency like the IRS or Medicare or Social Security are common. You should not answer questions that they are asking as government services typically won’t call you.
– anyone asking you to pay something in the form of prepaid cards is typically a scam.
– do not click on pop-ups or “updates” that your computer is asking you to complete as those can have scams built into them to capture financial information from your computer.
– Be cautious when sharing personal information on social media platforms. Scammers can use your personal details, such as your birth date or location, to craft convincing scam messages.
– Regularly review your bank and credit card statements for any unauthorized or suspicious transactions. Report any discrepancies to your financial institution immediately.
– Shred important documents containing personal information, such as bank statements, medical records, and credit card offers, before disposing of them to prevent identity theft.
– Consider using a credit monitoring service to alert you to any unusual activity on your credit report, which can help you detect identity theft early.
– Don’t trust unsolicited phone calls, emails, or text messages claiming you’ve won a prize or lottery. Legitimate winnings usually don’t require upfront payments or personal information.
– Be cautious when downloading apps or software from sources other than official app stores or websites. Scammers often use fake apps or software to gain access to your devices and data.
– Install and regularly update antivirus and anti-malware software on your computer and mobile devices to help protect against malicious software that can steal your financial information.
– Avoid sharing your Social Security number, Medicare number, or other sensitive personal information unless you are certain of the legitimacy of the request.
– Consider enrolling in the National Do Not Call Registry to reduce the number of unwanted telemarketing calls you receive.
– If you suspect you’ve been targeted or have fallen victim to a scam, report it to your local law enforcement agency, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and your state’s attorney general’s office.
– Seek advice and support from family members or trusted friends if you’re unsure about a financial decision or if you suspect you may be targeted by a scam. It’s always wise to get a second opinion.
Where to go for help:
AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline: 877-908-3360
Senior CrimeStoppers – Toll Free: (800) 529-9096
- Office of Attorney General: Types of Elder Abuse.
- Office of Attorney General: Bureau of Medical, Fraud, and Elder Abuse, Complaint Hotline (800) 722-0432.
- Senior Safe Act
- National Elder Fraud Hotline 833–372–8311