Signs of Caregiver Fraud and Tips for Prevention
Caregiver fraud may seem more like something you see on television or read in the news, but it does not become serious until it has happened to a loved one. Whether the amount lost is small or large, it is the breach of trust that you put in somebody to care for your loved one that feels personal and unjust. Understanding some warning signs of caregiver fraud and how to protect your loved ones is truly important when you entrust the care of a loved one to someone else.
Signs of Potential Fraud
Unfortunately, there is no single sign that points toward caregiver fraud. Not to mention, even if you notice some irregularity, it does not necessarily mean that fraud is actually occurring. However, being aware of a few warning signs may help you avoid a larger or ruinous problem down the road.
First off, be sure to keep an eye on your loved one’s bank statements and expense receipts. Oftentimes, caregiver fraud begins there: caregivers take the senior to the grocery store, for example, and leave with 50% of the cart for themselves. If you are seeing bills that look too high or items on a receipt list that are out of character for your loved one, do not be afraid to speak up.
Next, spend some time talking to your loved one. Understand the nature of the relationship between the caregiver and him or her and ensure that it does not become too friendly or intimate. When elders view their caregivers as friends or even their own children instead of employees, the senior can easily be taken advantage of. It goes without saying that this is a delicate balance; the elderly patient needs to be comfortable with his or her caregiver. But the patient’s vulnerability and possible disorientation or forgetfulness (or worse, dementia) render him or her easy prey for fraud or theft.
Also, keep an eye on how much the caregiver is working. If the caregiver is being paid to be with the elder Monday-Friday from 9:00AM-5:00PM, it is important that they fulfill those hours. Not doing so is of course irresponsible, but it may also point to other, more serious problems or manipulation. Be sure the caregiver you have hired is really present to take care of the person you love, not to take advantage of his or her old age or kindness or timidity.
Prevention and How to Proceed
The easiest and most effective prevention method is conversation. Start a discussion with your loved one and see how things are going. You will quickly be able to recognize problems and see when a relationship between an elder and caregiver becomes too personal. Conversation with the caregiver is also important. It is good for the caregiver to see that you have an investment in the elder’s life. Not to mention, again, you can most easily pick up on any unusual tendencies portrayed by the caregiver through frequent interaction.
Above all, be active in your elderly loved one’s life. Keep a constant eye on their financial and healthcare information, monitor their mail, and make sure all valuables are in safekeeping. Be vigilant about checking account and other bank statements and be attention to deposits and withdrawals, newly opened bank or credit cards. Check financial statements and account balances at least once every couple of weeks, just to be safe. This is a good start to keep your loved ones safe. Taking the steps necessary to protect them can make all the difference.
If you or a loved one has experienced caregiver fraud in California, contact the Evans Law Firm fraud attorneys at (415) 441-8669, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our attorneys also have experience with complex financial contracts and large insurance companies. We can help guide your case through a jury trial or toward an equitable settlement. We handle cases involving physical and financial elder abuse, qui tam and whistleblower law, nursing home abuse, whole life insurance and universal life insurance, and indexed, variable, and fixed annuities.