Sadly, not everyone respects and honors their elders in the United States – or in most other countries for that matter. In fact, some unscrupulous criminals actually target older individuals because they tend to be more vulnerable and are easier to victimize. Whether you are a senior yourself, or the loved one of an older individual, it is imperative that you learn everything you can about elder abuse, and about financial exploitation, in particular, to avoid victimization. To help you, the Port St. Lucie elder law attorneys at Kulas & Crawford offer tips to avoid becoming the victim of scammers.
Financial Exploitation of Seniors – How Bad Is the Problem?
Although you may be aware that seniors are often the victim of financial scammers and other forms of exploitation, you may not realize exactly how prevalent financial exploitation of the elderly is across the United States. Considering the following facts and figures compiled by the National Adult Protective Services Association:
- One in nine seniors reported being abused, neglected or exploited in the past twelve months; the rate of financial exploitation is extremely high, with 1 in 20 older adults indicating some form of perceived financial mistreatment occurring in the recent past
- Elder abuse is vastly under-reported; only one in 44 cases of financial abuse is ever reported
- Abused seniors are three times more likely to die and elder abuse victims are four times more likely to go into a nursing home
- 90% of abusers are family members or trusted others
- Almost one in ten financial abuse victims will turn to Medicaid as a direct result of their own monies being stolen from them
- Cognitive impairment and the need for help with activities of daily living make victims more vulnerable to financial abuse
Unfortunately, elder abuse, in general, is vastly under-reported, due in large part to the fact that victims of abuse are often embarrassed to be a victim and/or live in fear of reprisals because they remain dependent on their abusers.
Tips to Avoid Becoming the Victim of a Scammer
Experts tell us that most financial abuse occurs at the hands of family members and caregivers who have easy access to a victim’s funds and property. There are, however, a significant number of criminals who target the elderly with financial scams as well. To avoid becoming the victim of one of these scams, consider the following tips:
- Keep social media posts private and limit personal information. Many seniors now have social media accounts in an effort to communicate with grandchildren. Unfortunately, they don’t always know how to change the settings and are unaware of how scammers use the information they post. Always set your accounts to “private” – ask for help if you don’t know how to do this. Furthermore, be very careful what you post. When you mention your grandson is going on spring break, for example, a scam artist may use that information to call you posing as his friend and asking you for money because your grandson has been arrested. Known as the “Granny Scam,” this is actually a common scam.
- Never give out financial information over the phone or the internet. In today’s internet shopping age, you may wish to make purchases online. It is possible, and safe, to do this; however, you should never be required to give out actual account information to conduct a purchase. If someone calls you claiming to be your bank or investment company, always offer to call them back to confirm their identity.
- Do not get pressured into purchasing or agreeing to anything. Sometimes even legitimate salespeople can be extremely pushy with seniors because they perceive them as more likely to give in and purchase whatever they are selling. Never feel pressured. It is always ok to say you want some time to consider the offer.
Contact Port St. Lucie Elder Law Attorneys
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns regarding how to avoid becoming the victim of scammers, contact the experienced Port St. Lucie elder law attorneys at Kulas & Crawford by calling (772) 398-0720 to schedule an appointment.