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How Can Seniors Avoid Costly Scams?

Seniors are very vulnerable to being victimized by dishonest actors who see them as easy targets. Unfortunately, defrauding the elderly – financial elder abuse – has become a multi-billion-dollar business and many seniors see their savings taken by all different types of fraud or abuse from caregivers, insurance agents, financial advisors, trustees and others. 

A California financial elder abuse attorney at Evans Law Firm can provide help to seniors in exploring legal remedies and recouping funds that have been lost, but it can sometimes be a major challenge to try to recover money or property that has been taken.

Financial elder abuse can lead to permanent losses and cause emotional distress, it is important for seniors and their families to be as informed as possible about how to avoid exploitation.  These tips can help.

Tips for Seniors on Avoiding Financial Elder Abuse

Some of the key ways that seniors can avoid falling victim to a scam include:

  • Limit access to accounts: While it can make sense for seniors to give a close family member or financial professional access to accounts, the number of people who are entrusted with account information should be strictly limited to persons the seniors knows well and trusts.
  • Avoid Isolation:  If you are a senior, don’t isolate; stay active with your family and old friends and community and church or synagogue groups.  If you’re the loved one of a senior, stay active in your senior loved one’s life.  Drop in unexpectedly and help them with financial decisions.  Go with them to any meetings involving financial matters.
  • Keep credit cards, ATM cards and other valuables safe:  As seniors need daily assistance, more strangers may enter their homes as caregivers, contractors or aides.  Make sure credit cards, checkbooks and ATM cards are out of reach and in a safe place.  Financial predators strike quickly and pick up loose cards or checkbooks.
  • Care with Powers of Attorney:  A senior may need to entrust another with a Power of Attorney over financial affairs.  At Evans Law Firm we always recommend seniors appoint more than one agent and require the agents to act jointly.  Both agents should be trusted individuals; the appointment of more than a single agent reduces the chances of one individual abusing the Power.
  • Avoid making quick decisions: If you’re pressured to do anything quickly – especially to give money or make investments, it’s usually a big red flag. Avoid free lunch seminars and “educational” forums hosted by insurance agents and advisors; they usually end in a hard sale one-on-one tactic.
  • Monitor your financial accounts: Check your accounts regularly for signs of suspicious activity. Look for any unusual activity or cash withdrawals.  Do not share PINs, Social Security numbers, or any other identifiers that may allow access to your accounts by others.
  • Do Background Checks on Caregivers and Advisors:  This could be the most important tip of all.  Make sure you check the background of any persons you hire, especially as caregivers.  Also, always check the background of any insurance agent, financial planner or investment advisor who approaches you.  Check backgrounds before transacting any business. This can protect you from fraud by persons with a past of financial wrongdoing or consumer complaints.

If you do fall victim to a scam, make sure you understand your rights and your options for recovering lost funds. Contact Evans Law Firm online or call 415-441-8669 for a free initial consultation today to find out how our attorneys can help you.

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