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A combination of technology and social distancing has made this one of the worst years ever for the increasing problem of elder financial abuse. Billions of dollars are scammed away from seniors each year according to the AIG’s Elder and Vulnerable Client Care Unit.

One in two seniors 65 or older handles their money entirely alone, leaving themselves vulnerable to scams and financial exploitation. While many people of this age are perfectly capable of handling their money still, the time to put protections in place for yourself is before you actually need them.

Be Able To Recognize Common Scams

  • Fraudulent IRS Scams: Callers pretending to be from the IRS claiming that you will be arrested if you don’t pay up on missing taxes have been increasingly common over the years. Keep in mind that government agencies rarely call people. If there were a real problem you would receive a letter in the mail, but keep in mind these letters can also sometimes be fake.

  • Robocalls and Unsolicited Phone Calls: According to the Federal Communications Commission, there are nearly 2.4 billion robocalls made every month. Never give out your personal information to anyone that calls you. You have no way of knowing if they are who they claim to be. If you need to arrange something with your bank or credit card company, you place the call to them using a trusted number.

  • Lottery/Sweepstakes Scams: In this all to common of a scam, seniors are made to believe that they have won a lottery. They are told that they need to pay a fee to collect their winnings. To make matters worse, if seniors do send the money, they get many daily calls demanding more money.

  • Grandparent Scams: Imposters pretend to be your grandchild or an authority figure holding your grandchild. They claim the family member is in trouble and needs money to help with an emergency. Check with other family members to verify if these claims are legitimate. Again, never give out financial information to someone that calls you.

  • COVID-19 Scams: Warnings from the Federal Trade Commission about scams related to products falsely claiming to treat or prevent the novel coronavirus, as well as fake charities have been heard. Be suspicious of alleged government calls to set up COVID-19 tests and avoid phishing emails about being exposed, needing testings, or any other attempt to get your personal details or financial information.

  • Abuse From Family: Yikes! The majority of elder financial abuse actually is perpetrated by the victims’ own families. This can come in the form of physical or mental abuse, neglect, theft, or just by taking advantage of situations.

Protect Seniors From Potential Financial Abuse

Work with a financial advisor from a reputable institution, long before you need one. They can help you early on with savings and retirement, and later be able to help you protect your assets from fraud and abuse. You can also involve a trusted family member in your financial matters. Be careful who you choose, however, as a lot of elder financial abuse actually comes from family members and neighbors rather than nefarious strangers.

Finally, make sure to report all cases to the proper authorities. It is believed that only one out of 44 cases are reported, often out of fear or shame for having fallen for a scam. You can use the Department Of Justice’s resource page on elder financial abuse to report suspected theft property.

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