Redirecting Social Security Automatic Deposits
Identity Theft And Online Access
Protecting Seniors From Financial Exploitation
Among the income and assets an unscrupulous caregiver can steal from an elderly person are that person’s Social Security benefits or private pension benefits. Ordinarily these benefits are paid monthly by direct deposit into the beneficiary’s bank account. If a caregiver can gain online access to these benefit accounts, they may be able to redirect the deposits to their own accounts. Each year, the Social Security Administration issues nearly $1 trillion in monthly benefit payments to about 70 million people so the chances of the system itself catching a fraudulent redirection of benefits is slim. Every time a senior’s property – including Social Security or retirement benefits – is taken for a wrongful use it’s an act of financial elder abuse. Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 15610.30(a)(1). Anyone who assists also commits financial elder abuse. Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 15610.30(a)(2). Remedies include awards of attorneys’ fees and costs for bringing your case. Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 15657.5. If you or a loved one has been the victim of financial elder abuse in Alameda County, San Francisco or anywhere in the Bay Area or throughout California, call us today at (415)441-8669. Our toll-free number is 1-888-50EVANS (888-503-8267).
If an unscrupulous caregiver has access to a senior’s Social Security number, date of birth and current bank account information, they can go online and redirect a Social Security benefit or other income sources to their own account. If no one is monitoring a senior’s account the theft may go undetected. Even if the caregiver does not redirect the benefits to their own account, by accessing a senior’s bank account they can take directly from the account by online transfers, ATM withdrawals, or using a senior’s debit card to pay their own bills. They can also forge checks to themselves and their own family members of they have access to a senior’s checkbook. All of these forms of theft and abuse are very real, and we have seen caregivers take each one of these steps to steal from the persons their paid to care for.
Preventing Financial Abuse Of Older Loved Ones
If you have an older loved one who is under the care of an in-home caregiver, make sure the caregiver does NOT have access to Social Security numbers, bank information and the like. Make sure they don’t have access to cash, checks or credit cards in your older loved one’s home. Keep jewelry and valuable personal possessions in a safe place too. Monitor credit cards and bank accounts online regularly. Have financial statements mailed to your address so others cannot access your loved one’s mail. Never, ever grant a power of attorney to a caregiver or nursing home staff member. Never allow a caregiver to take a credit card to go shopping or an ATM card to go get a senior some cash; you’re only asking for trouble if you do. Accompany older loved ones whenever they go shopping or go to the bank or have any sort of meeting about financial matters. You can be there to protect them from outright theft and the problems they may get into if they are sold an unsuitable investment or insurance product like an annuity. Perhaps most important of all, if you suspect anything wrong, do something about it right away.
If you suspect financial elder abuse of a loved one, friend or neighbor in Alameda County, San Francisco, or elsewhere in California, call Ingrid M. Evans at Evans Law Firm, Inc. at (415) 441-8669, or by email at email@example.com. Our toll-free number is 1-888-50EVANS (888-503-8267). Ingrid pursues all available remedies for families and injured seniors against those responsible, including an award of attorneys’ fees and costs for the victim or his or her family. Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 15657.5.