Financial theft and fraud hits elderly Californians hard, often wiping out checking and savings accounts, taking over assets, and claiming property or even financial control. On average, seniors fall victim to investment fraud, credit card fraud, or identity theft, losing close to $3 billion each year. The attraction of seniors’ “nest eggs” combined with their vulnerability in choosing retirement and investment plans makes older people common targets of this kind of abuse, and financial elder abuse lawyers in Marin County say that knowing who is behind these scams can help guard against fraud and abuse.
A combination of factors contributes to the threats older people face in protecting their money. Because they are more likely to be home during the day than their younger, working neighbors, older residents are susceptible to door-to-door salesmen offering false financial advice or banking products that require personal information. Telemarketers have access to potential victims at all hours of the day and night, offering prize money, posing as charities seeking donations, or pretending to be a sick or injured family member in desperate need. These scams prey on elderly peoples’ access and sense of trust.
Print ads also bombard older Californians with false advertisements and offers for financial security and advice, often times asking people to fill out cards with personal information and mail them in to the company. The cards are received by organizations that make profits selling other people’s information to third-party websites and criminal organizations. This information is used to steal people’s identities as well as to contact them, pressuring them to buy financially draining products such as investment plans, expensive or unnecessary medical supplies, pre-paid funeral plots, or a reverse mortgage.
Information is also collected on social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter, where users’ choices and interests are easily observed. Older members of these sites may not always think about where their information is going, and are not always as alert and tech-savvy as the younger users. Scammers may use personal data collected from family members profiles to trick older people into thinking that their families are contacting them, or are in trouble and in need.
Guarding against financial fraud means guarding personal information, financial elder abuse lawyers in Marin County say. Trusting only a select few with bank account numbers, social security numbers, and information about other valuable assets is one way to control the access to a retirement nest egg and help bolster financial security. Elder financial fraud is widely underreported, because it is often concealed by the victim, afraid to admit that he or she may be losing control, either financially or mentally, which can spell the end of independence for these victims.
Several common signs indicate that an elderly parent or neighbor may have been the victim of financial abuse. Cutting back on expenses, unpaid bills piling up, a sudden change in bank or legal documents, or the appearance of a new advisor—all these are warning signs that a person’s finances may be in danger. A missing or stolen Medicare card is also an indication; often Medicare numbers can link scammers directly to key pieces of information regarding identity, address, social security numbers, and bank accounts.
These signs of abuse should be investigated and reported, to ensure safety of elderly residents. The financial elder abuse lawyers at Marin County law firm Evans Law Firm, Inc., urge older Californians to take control of their financial security, and represent anyone who has fallen victim to identity fraud or theft. Call 415-441-8669 today for a consultation.