We think we would know when we’re being scammed, but would we really? Financial exploitation of seniors can take many forms, and it’s one of many types of elder abuse.
The exploitation can be as simple as taking cash out of our purse or wallet when we aren’t looking, leaving us to wonder whether we actually had the money.
It can be outright theft of money from our accounts after we’ve given someone our personal information.
It’s fraud when someone forges our signature on documents, causing us to lose money or property, or when someone misuses a power of attorney.
Exploitation can come in the form of pressure, persuasion or coercion when someone talks us into making changes to our finances, a will or an estate plan, or when we’re pushed to pay their bills or buy them things.
The ones who do this to us aren’t necessarily foreigners who manage to get us on the phone and try to wheedle personal information out of us or convince us to buy something. Sometimes the ones who do these things to us are people we trust.
Sometimes it’s a relative, someone we’re dating or even a child or grandchild pretending to act in our best interests. Sometimes it’s a caregiver. The fact that they would steal from us can be shocking to even think about — until they do. Cash, jewelry, income checks taken out of the mailbox, money taken out of our accounts when they discover our PIN … the list is nearly endless.
One small step to help guard your finances: Do your banking inside the bank so tellers get to know you and your normal habits. Another small step: Make use of a shredder.
But mostly, trust yourself. If you’re suspicious, trust that feeling. If you suspect you’re the victim of financial exploitation in any form, call the police. Don’t wait.
Matilda Charles – (c) 2023 King Features Synd., Inc.