New initiatives in senior care are pointing out that financial abuse is far more prevalent than what a lot of people think. And unfortunately, it isn’t usually caught until after the damage has been done. The money is gone, and the people responsible for taking it are long gone.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that the prevalence of financial abuse in the senior population is growing. There isn’t enough data out there yet to fully support this statement. However, it is quite clear that how abuse occurs is changing shape, and this is a major cause for concern. The growing use of technology has made it easier than ever for predators to take advantage of seniors. This is a population that may be at a higher risk because of physical frailty, but there are also ways to take advantage of seniors that prey upon cognitive risks that seniors face, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Unfortunately, this can happen quite easily to individuals that are not on the lookout and in possession of all of their mental faculties.
The best thing that you can do to help your elderly loved one in this regard is to continue to educate yourself. Be aware of the best ways to keep your information safe online. You know that you shouldn’t share personal data with anyone, but are you confident that you can do this in practice? This is actually a situation that I ran into with my own mom a few weeks ago. She had received an email from her credit card company saying that there were a series of suspicious charges on her card and that she needed to get in touch with them right away or her account would be closed. A link was provided to help make that contact easier.
Rather than clicking on the link, she called her card company and found that it was a phishing email. Even though the email was on “official” company letterhead, it did not come from the company. After looking things over for her, I pointed out that the address that had sent the email was a Gmail account, and not a credit card email account. Additionally, where the last four digits of her card should have been, there were a series of “X”s. She asked me, “how do they know I had this type of credit card?” which is a valid question. I explained that they didn’t. The email was probably sent to hundreds of people, and maybe a quarter of those people had a card. They were banking on a few people having the card, and a handful of those few actually replying.
If you or a family member are unsure of whether something like this is valid, go right to the source. And if an older family member is not capable of making calls or decisions like this on their own, make those calls for them. It will go a long way toward helping the to stay financially safe and avoid this kind of abuse.