When it comes to protecting older relatives from financial abuse and scams, it can be a tough battle. Older relatives are often unknowingly targeted by those looking to take advantage of their age and vulnerability. It’s important to know how to spot and avoid scams that may be directed at your loved one so you can keep them safe. This article will provide advice on how to recognize financial abuse and keep your relative’s assets safe.
1. What is Financial Abuse?
Defining Financial Abuse: Financial abuse is a form of domestic abuse that is characterized by the misuse of finances for control and power. It occurs when one partner takes control of finances and other economic resources, preventing the other partner from having access and financial decision-making power.
Financial abuse is so damaging because it leaves victims feeling powerless and unable to make their own financial decisions. It is often invisible to onlookers, and unbeknownst to many, it can be just as debilitating and potentially more dangerous than physical violence.
Forms of Financial Abuse: Financial abuse can present itself in a variety of forms, including:
- Withholding access to money, resources, or financial information.
- Gambling away funds and refusing to share money.
- Forcing to sign documents, such as joint accounts.
- Forbidding access to bank or credit card accounts.
- Accumulating debt in the victim’s name.
- Forcing to relinquish access to work, Social Security, or other benefits.
2. Warning Signs of Elder Financial Abuse
Observing the Signs:
Financial exploitation of seniors is a serious issue that can go unnoticed for long periods of time. It’s important to be aware of the warning signs that could indicate that an older adult is a victim of exploitation. Here are some of the key warning signs to be aware of:
- Unexplained or sudden changes in bank account or banking practices
- Abrupt changes to the senior’s living will or other financial documents
- Suspicious changes to wills and trusts
- Sudden withdrawals from accounts made by a person accompanying the senior
- New faces in the senior’s life who profess to be “good friends” that are attempting to influence the senior’s financial decisions
If you’re concerned that an elderly person is being exploited, don’t delay. Victims of financial exploitation are often ashamed to speak up, feeling like they can’t protect themselves. Be proactive and talk to the senior immediately to ensure their financial safety. It’s important to act quickly and stay vigilant to make sure the senior is not only safeguarded against financial exploitation, but also receives the help and support they need to get back on track.
3. How to Protect an Older Relative from Financial Abuse
When a family member gets older, there’s a greater chance of them falling prey to scams and financial abuse. Unscrupulous actors might take advantage of their elderly relative’s potential inability to discern legitimate opportunities from fraudulent ones. As a family member, it’s your responsibility to protect an older relative from financial abuse and build a care plan that includes safeguards against fraud. Here are some steps to take:
- Turn to family and friends: You and other family members can discuss all of the elderly relative’s financial dealings. This way, you can regulate who the elderly relative is sharing information with, and the chances for abuse can be reduced.
- Check out charities: If your elderly relative ever receives an offer from a charity, make sure it’s an organization you know and trust. Do research and ensure that your relative is donating wisely and not being scammed out of their money.
- Be mindful of contracts: Before you sign off on any contracts or agreements, it’s a good idea to double and triple-check what you’re consenting to. Are the terms of the contract fair? Are there any hidden charges that might inflate costs for goods or services? Are there protections for customers? Consider all of these issues before signing off on a contract.
You should also be sure to educate your elderly relative on Internet safety, cautioning them against handing out financial or sensitive personal information over the web. Teach them to hang up if they’re receiving unsolicited calls, and to be wary of suspicious emails. With the right safeguards, you can protect your vulnerable family member from financial abuse and equip them with the skills to stay vigilant against fraudsters.
4. Common Scams to Watch Out For
What is a Scam?
Scams are schemes designed to deceive or defraud people out of their money or goods. These fraudulent schemes can take many forms, from fake lotteries to unsolicited offers. Despite being around for long as sometimes as long as hundreds of years, scams have risen in prevalence in the 21st century, with the advancement of technology allowing for easier access of victims.
4 Common Scams to Avoid:
- Phishing Scams – hackers may try to access personal information by posing as legitimate institutions such as banks.
- Advance Fee Frauds – Offers to give away large sums of money if the target provides a fee upfront
- Investment Frauds – Unexpected offers of investments or returns with little or no risks
- Charity Frauds – Individuals claiming to represent charities collecting funds for fake causes
In this digital age, it’s important to know what to look out for to prevent falling prey to scammers. Avoiding the above common frauds is key to keeping your hard-earned money safe. Before giving out any sensitive information or making payments, verify the source and research legitimacy. As the old saying goes “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is”. Helping protect older family members from financial abuse is a noble task that requires dedication and vigilance. By being aware of the warning signs of a scam and taking the necessary steps to protect one’s relatives, you can help ensure that they continue to live their lives with independence and peace of mind. Don’t let the fear of financial abuse stand in your way of making the world a safer place!