How to Spot Senior Abuse and What to Do

Over 28 million Americans become victims of fraud annually, and 30 percent are seniors. Criminals target seniors for many reasons including they may be more trusting, have savings and weren’t raised in an era of cyber scams. According to the National Adult Protective Services Association, “financial exploitation is a fast-growing form of abuse of seniors and adults with disabilities.”

Seniors face scams from strangers, professionals and in very sad cases, loved ones and trusted caretakers.

Types of Scams

On NAPSA’s website, the organization has a detailed and helpful list of the most common types of scams seniors face:

By Strangers:

  • Lottery and sweepstakes scams
  • Home repair/traveling con men
  • Grandparent scam (grandchild is in trouble and needs money immediately)
  • Charity scams
  • Roof repair, yard work, home repair scams

By Professionals:

  • Predatory lending – seniors pressured into taking out inappropriate reverse mortgages or other loans
  • Annuity sales – the senior may be pressured into using the equity realized from a reverse mortgage (or other liquid assets) to buy an expensive annuity which may not mature until the person is well into their 90’s or over 100
  • Investment/securities schemes – pyramid schemes; unrealistic returns promised; dealer is not licensed
  • Internet phishing – false emails about bank accounts
  • Identity theft
  • Medicare scams – these are the costliest in terms of the dollar amounts

By Family/People they Trust:

  • Power of Attorney, given by the victim, to spend money
  • Taking advantage of joint bank accounts
  • Using ATM cards and stealing checks
  • Threatening to abandon, hit or otherwise harm the victim unless he or she gives the perpetrator what he/she wants
  • Refusing to obtain needed care and medical services for the victim in order to keep the person’s assets available for the abuser

When Seniors Get Scammed

Senior exploitation is a very serious issue for a number of reasons. The effects can be devastating and life-altering. Successful scams can bankrupt seniors, putting their financial future in serious risk and making them dependent on the government. Without the ability to work, seniors have no way of recouping their lost funds. Even when seniors lose smaller amounts of money it can cause extremely negative impacts on their mental health. Abused seniors are at-risk for depression, embarrassment and shame. They may also lose their ability to trust.

What to Look For

Financial abuse can be tough to spot, the easiest way is to have an open dialogue with seniors about their finances. Financial activity that should trigger questions:

  • Bills not being paid
  • Large withdrawals of money
  • Unusual purchases
  • Suspicious changes in wills or powers of attorney

 Preventing Senior Abuse

Midnight Sun Home Care offers an engaging presentation/seminar for groups and organizations called “Senior Targeted Frauds and Scams.” The materials cover abuse, neglect and exploitation, and how to recognize it and what to do.

The presentation focuses on:

  • Why seniors are likely targets of fraud
  • Types of fraud and scams
  • How to protect against fraud
  • Provides helpful resources

To schedule a seminar/presentation call us.


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