The vast majority of cases of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of older adults in the United States go unidentified and unreported. Not less than $2,900,000,000 is taken from older adults each year due to financial abuse and exploitation. Elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation have no boundaries and cross all racial, social, class, gender, and geographic lines. Older adults who are abused are 3 times more likely to die earlier than older adults of the same age who are not abused. Up to half of all older adults with dementia will experience abuse.
Almost 3 billion dollars? It’s sound unbelievable, but these words are from the Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act passed by the House and sent to the President this week.
Abuse of senior citizens comes from a multitude of sources. So what can we do to help protect the seniors we love?
WHAT TO DO RIGHT NOW
- Choose caregivers carefully
- Keep an inventory of jewelry and other valuables in the senior’s home
- Gift your senior with a shredder and teach them the importance of using it
- Monitor their incoming and outgoing mail
- Obtain their credit score annually
- Remind them never to answer a phone call that doesn’t have caller ID
- If having work done in their home or residence, ask to see the worker’s license
- Review bank statements and credit card bills monthly
- Talk to your senior about scams and warn them that they may be victimized
- Stay involved in their life so you can spot warning signs of abuse before they happen
- If you suspect a scam, call law enforcement to report it
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Medicare/Health Insurance Scams: someone posing as a Medicare representative asking for personal information or providing bogus services from mobile clinics with the intent of gaining personal information so they can bill Medicare and pocket the money.
Counterfeit Prescription Drugs: usually sold over the Internet at cheap prices. They may resemble real drugs but either won’t help a person’s condition or be harmful.
Funeral & Cemetery Scams: Grieving widows or widowers are told their deceased loved one had an outstanding debt with them to extort money to settle the fake debt, or funeral homes that add unnecessary charges or try to up-sell more expensive caskets or funeral services.
Anti-Aging Products: Completely bogus products that do nothing to reverse the signs of aging, and may have toxic consequences.
Telemarketing/phone Scams: With no paper trail or face-to-face interaction, a con artist might lie about finding a large sum of money and is willing to split it if the person will make a “good faith” payment first, or a lie about a child or relative being in the hospital and needing money, or fake charities that are rampant after natural disasters, such as hurricanes, earthquakes and floods.
Internet Fraud: Popup windows that fool victims into downloading virus-scanning software that is actually a virus, then demanding money to remove it, or an email message that appears to be from a legitimate, familiar company asking them verify or update personal information.
Investment Schemes: Foreigners seeking U.S. partners to claim inheritance money, or complex financial products, are completely fraudulent.
Phony Reverse Mortgages: A “request” from the County Assessor’s Office to, for a fee, reassess the value of a home to reduce the tax burden.
Sweepstakes and Lottery Scams: A phony call or letter saying they have won a lottery or contest of some kind but need to make a payment to “unlock” the prize.
The Grandma Scam: Grandma receives a call from someone who says, “Hi grandma, know who this is?” The unsuspecting grandma guesses a name, and the caller agrees. Once the connection is established, the scammer asks for money to be wired via Western Union to solve a problem (car repairs, medical expenses, etc.).