Financial Elder Abuse – How to Stop It!

Yesterday, my wife and I attended a meeting of one of her retiree groups from her association. The speaker was the key Assistant D.A. from San Diego who has focused on elder abuse and elder financial abuse for 15 years.  I’m sure the ideas he talked about are rampant around the nation, but it seemed to be quite unsettling–and I’ve heard these before.  Just FYI – make sure you tell people about this info, and spread the word.

10 Easy Tips that Can Keep You Safe:

1.Choose a caregiver with caution: Even using a bonded agency, there is no current law requiring mandatory background checks.  Those I know through networking are ALL bonded and REQUIRE background checks.

2. Keep an inventory of all Jewelry. The #1 item stolen from senior’s homes.  Lock it in a drawer, and have a photograph and inventory list of all precious items.

3.Every home must have a shredder. Shred everything with your name, address, and other I.D. markings.  Time to shred the magazines that come in the mail.

4. Protect your mail – outgo and incoming. Do not allow incoming mail to sit in an unsecured box. Change to one with a lock on it. The mailmen can drop it in, but no one else can. Don’t use red flags-it alerts thieves.  Take your mail to the post office. Why? They have cameras that show when people drop off mail.

5. Obtain a credit search on yourself 2 – 3 times per year.  Use the free ones. And don’t fall for the free credit report commercials.  That’s just a way to capture your info, and it could cost you money.  Go directly to the 3 credit agencies: Experian, Equifax, and Transunion.  Look for mistakes, and contact the three immediately.

6.Every phone should have a caller I..D.  If it’s blocked call, don’t answer it.

7. You will never win the Canadian lottery.  It’s a phishing scam. Same from emails from Nigeria or other 3rd world countries.

8.Allow your bank to send a copy of your monthly statement to a trusted family member or advisor.  Most financial abuse is found six to nine months after the crime.  And since many of the perpetrators are close family, it’s really best to use an outside advisor.

9. Don’t assume that friendly handyman is licensed or qualified.  If someone has no license, don’t use them.  Also, the law only requires a 10% deposit on any job when signing.

10. Always have a second line of defense at your front door. A locked screen door or security guard chain helps.  NEVER ALLOW A STRANGER INTO YOUR HOME. They have an emergency, tell them through the door you will call 9-1-1 to help them.  If they run away, good!

Here’s 2 quick examples from friends of my wife:

One lady felt sorry for her son, who seemed to have problems keeping a job, and was a drug user.  He beat his mother up and sent her to the hospital.  After spending 3 years in jail, she said he had straightened out, and took him back.  Loaned him more money.  He finally left and got his act together, but it was tense.  DON’T FEEL SORRY FOR YOUR KIDS. If they are over 25, they should be on their own and living in their own house!

Friend #2: Got a phone call during the day from a voice who said “Grandma?” The women said “Scotty?” Mistake: She gave him info. “Yeah, granny it’s me.  I’m in trouble.  I’m under arrest in Costa Rica.  Went to a friends wedding, got drunk, hit a car.  I have a lawyer, if you can send $5,000 wired to this PO Box, I can get free!”

Obviously, a scam.  Fortunately, I had just read about those scams in the AARP Bulletin. My wife called her friend back and said, “call you son, find out if “Scotty” is in jail.” (He actually was in jail, but in Coachella Valley, and had been for months.  The father said, no way is he in Costa Rica, he couldn’t afford the airfare!”

When the “attorney” called back, she denied them the money and said I don’t fall for your scams.

Nuff said!