Elder financial abuse is a reality during the hectic holidays. As seniors prep for the season’s festivities, criminals prepare to take advantage of their spirited generosity. Adult children are advised to be especially vigilant about protecting their elders from scams that surge around the holidays.
Issues with Elder Financial Abuse
Financial experts estimate that elderly victims of fraud lose $36.5 billion each year. Seniors over the age of 65 are most vulnerable to scams because they own homes, have good credit and have access to a retirement fund. The elderly are also more charitable this time of year.
Advanced age puts seniors at risk for fraud. Elderly widows who are inexperienced in handling finances, for instance, are easily conned. Seniors without significant experience using the internet may not recognize an online scam. Memory issues also make the elderly vulnerable to schemes.
How to Protect Against Scams
Seniors are asked to be proactive in protecting themselves from fraud. The elderly are advised to involve adult children when suspicion of scams arise. Red flags include people contacting seniors to ask for money for charities or debts (that are unlikely to exist) or personal information.
If adult children are unavailable to assist, seniors are urged to contact an administrator in the community in which they live or a trusted friend who is able to take action. Although elder scams are widespread throughout the year, the number of cons spikes during the holidays.
1. Online Shopping Fraud
At the height of the gift-giving season, seniors look for good deals. Conmen, too, are on the prowl, offering fake deals to lure unsuspecting seniors into their traps. Fake deals ask for personal information or request the shopper to click on a link that loads dangerous malware onto the computer.
Shopping schemes come in as many colors as lights on the holiday tree. Fake apps are designed to resemble major retailers’ apps. Before downloading an app, first check to see if the business name is spelled correctly and that reviews are available. Without either, the app is likely fraudulent.
Seniors who buy gift cards from retailers they frequent should be wary of requests for personal information. Offers for loyalty gifts card may require that the individual click on a link and provide personal details. Avoid clicking the link, as it may be an attempt to steal personal information.
After making an online purchase, a senior may receive an email stating that an issue exists with the order. A legitimate email references the order number and requires the senior to log in to the account. A fraudulent one presents a link and asks the individual to re-enter personal information.
Malicious links and demands for sensitive information are prevalent during the busy shopping season. Adult children should advise their elderly loved ones to never share personal information outside of their secure online accounts and to avoid clicking links and attachments.
2. Imposter Calls
Fraudsters love playing the role of a needy grandchild during the holidays. A conman posing as a distressed grandchild will call the senior to let him know he needs money for financial, medical or legal problems. The imposter will stress that the parent not be informed.
The schemer disguises his voice through frantic crying, so that the senior is unable to identify the voice. Seniors who receive such calls should tell the supposed grandchild that he’ll call him back, then call the direct number to the grandchild. It’s a scam if the grandchild is safe.
Variations of the grandparent scheme include a scammer calling the senior to ask for money to buy holiday presents, a used car for work or school or to pay for college tuition. Adult children should remind seniors that money is not always the solution to medical or legal emergencies.
3. Charity Schemes
Scammers may pose as representatives from a charity. Oftentimes, the supposed charity does not exist; or, the conman is not a legitimate official of a reputable organization. Relatives of older adults should help the latter investigate the charity and make sure it is an established one.
Assist the senior in determining whether or not the charitable organization is in good standing. Visit charity watchdog websites, like Charity Watch or the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance. Do not respond to phone solicitations without verifying the charity’s legitimacy.
If the charity is reputable, urge the senior to donate safely. Advise the senior to never mail cash or wire money. Warn the senior of risky practices, like emailing financial information or a credit card number or inputting payment details into an insecure website.
Any senior who falls prey to a financial scam should contact his bank right away. Adult children should review elderly parents’ credit card statements each month to look for fraudulent activity. A trusted relative should add himself to a parent’s bank account to monitor the senior’s spending.
Supplement Financial Abuse Protection with Home Care
With the help of vigilant family members, seniors can be generous during the holiday season and avoid being scammed. Family members are also encouraged to seek out trustworthy in-home care for their elderly loved one, especially as relatives become extremely busy amidst the season’s festivities.
Assisting Hands Home Care provides a wide range of compassionate, non-medical home health care to the elderly. Our professional caregivers are available to assist with personal care routines, transportation, meal preparation, medication reminders and mobility. We also offer pleasant companion care.
Families have confidence in the elder care services provided by Assisting Hands Home Care. We are a licensed home care agency with a staff of insured and bonded professional caregivers. You can be assured your elderly loved one will be in the most qualified hands when you choose our agency.
Get a Free Consultation
Elderly residents living in Hollywood, Miramar or Pembroke Pines, Florida, will find ample and dedicated home care support from Assisting Hands Home Care. We are available to support your elderly loved one during the holidays and beyond.
Call us today at (954) 644-7276 for a free, in-home consultation.