Consumer fraud that targets Americans aged 65 and older is a problem that gets bigger and more elaborate every year, and 2014 appears to be no different. Each year, fake corporations, false advertisements, and fraudsters bilk older Californians out of billions of dollars. All types of consumer fraud aimed at older people attempt to prey on their weaknesses, using common themes of increasing their retirement funds, or helping out loved ones, charities, or other causes in need. Financial elder abuse lawyers in the San Francisco Bay area say that older people need to be aware of the risks, and take steps to protect themselves against common types of fraud.
As members of America’s Baby Boomer generation join the ranks of senior citizens across the country, the widespread population draws a higher risk of fraud. Data from the US Census Bureau indicates that, over the last 50 years, the population of citizens over the age of 65 has increased by almost 90 percent. In contrast, the growth rate for citizens under the age of 65 has only increased by 34 percent. As of July 2011, baby boomers made up one-quarter of the country’s population, and as they continue to age, they become more susceptible to fraudulent attempts to steal their money and property.
Insurance companies—or people posing as insurance providers—sometimes attempt to coerce older Californians who still live in their own homes to spend more money, by claiming that the home needs unnecessary repairs or additions, and threatening to drop insurance coverage should the homeowners fail to make the so-called required changes. These scammers can change or make up documentation to back up their claims, or lie about the senior’s income or repayment costs on a mortgage. If they fall for it, senior citizens may be stuck with a long-term mortgage, with high monthly payments, that they did not need. If they are locked into a contract that they cannot pay, these fraud victims may be forced to leave their home, and pay off mountains of debt.
Another popular scam is one in which a person or organization claims to be able to double, or even triple, an older person’s retirement funds through investments. Fake financial advisors can gain access to an older person’s account numbers, financial data, and other personal information that can then be used to steal the person’s assets or even identity. At the very least, a fraudulent financial advisor can use another person’s money to make fraudulent investments, or to line their own bank accounts, all while collecting a salary.
But outsiders are not the only threat to older people’s financial security. Unfortunately, financial elder abuse attorneys in San Francisco report that close family members and relatives sometimes use their relationship with the older person to gain access to private data, including account numbers and property information. With this access, an untrustworthy family member can write checks, siphon funds, and make “donations,” sometimes earmarked for a personal account.
This year, San Francisco financial elder abuse attorneys at the Evans Law Firm warn older Californians to be wary of the dangers of fraud and abuse, and to use caution when providing personal information or responding to requests for money, property details, or anything else that seems suspicious. If you have been a victim of financial fraud and abuse, contact an Evans Law attorney at 415-441-8669 or www.evanslaw.com today.