SECURITY/FRAUD ISSUES: Social isolation, the loss of a spouse, chronic sickness, and all levels of cognitive impairment can make the elderly easy marks for all manner of fraud and breaches of security.
- Identity Theft creates victims of 5.3% of all consumers and is a steadily increasing crime. Be aware of “dumpster diving” for discarded bank statements and “shoulder-surfing” thieves hanging around ATMs hoping to access those large “nest eggs” saved to secure senior retirements. Protect credit reports, initiate security freezes on accounts, call in fraud alerts on credit cards, review statements thoroughly, get a new credit card number often, and protect your internet account. As one elderly lady explained to another:
“Mildred, my memory is gone. So I changed my password to “Incorrect.”
That way when I log in with the wrong password, the computer will tell me…
“Your password is incorrect.”
- Mail Fraud, a federal crime with penalties more severe than manslaughter, is any scheme that attempts to get money through the US Postal Service.
- “New Account” Fraud opens a new credit card account in the senior`s name and maxes out their line of credit.
- “Account Takeover” Fraud uses existing accounts, changes mailing address and contact information to gain access and deplete funds.
- Phone Fraud can be any of hundreds of scams that uses the phone to charge to or withdraw from personal funds.
- Telemarketing Fraud usually offer free prizes, gifts, or trips to sell bogus products or services.
- Anti-aging Product Fraud is any representation that a product will stop or reverse aging in order to sell that product.
- Counterfeit Prescription Drugs do not have the “Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Site” (VIPPS) seal of approval.
- Cemetery Plot Fraud: “Lower than low” scam artists are selling cemetery plots that don´t exist to seniors anxious to plan ahead.
- Extortion can also involve prolonged “Elder Abuse,” or any form of physical or mental threat from family members, care-givers, or criminals to extort real estate, retirement funds, social security checks, or anything of value.
- Voter/Absentee Ballot Fraud: In Florida, 53,000 registered voters were discovered to be dead. When a baby is born in Chicago, the standing joke is, “Is he/she registered to vote? … Twice?” The same joke applies to seniors in nursing homes. Personal information of the elderly in LTC facilities can be taken from lists and used for voter fraud, absentee ballots, and other scams.
- Internet Fraud, like phone fraud, but using the Internet to charge to or withdraw from personal accounts, or buys things, even real estate. Non-delivery of items purchased on the Internet requires follow-up.
- Petty Theft from vulnerable seniors in LTC facilities is commonplace. Seniors can believe that they misplaced things. However, family members can be just as larcenous as the often underpaid staff.
- Grand theft: Be especially aware of family members with serious financial problems, their possible forgeries, and investment and account “takeovers.”
- Investment Schemes: Seniors with retirement “nest eggs” can be particularly vulnerable to a variety of pyramid or Ponzi schemes, investment schemes requiring advanced fees, and reverse mortgage scams just to name a few.
- Senior Debt often threatens the financial security of adult children. Surviving family members can be held liable for a variety of senior debt, including the sometimes staggering unpaid balances of LTC facilities.