Older woman signing legal document

Elder Abuse and Fraud: How to Avoid Being a Target

Con artists love to go after seniors to try to trick them out of their hard-earned money. Sometimes the scammers are total strangers from somewhere else in the world, and sometimes the thieves are close to home. Relatives, neighbors, caregivers, and trusted people like spiritual advisors may dupe older Americans out of the money they need to survive.                                                       

There are ways to protect yourself from these crooks. A California estate planning attorney can explain how to avoid being a target and can provide guidance on setting up ways to keep your money out of the hands of con artists.

Educate Yourself on the Current Common Scams

When you know what to look for, it is easier to spot fraud before falling victim to it. Here are some of the top scams that target seniors:

  • Getting and misusing your Medicare identification number.
  • Selling counterfeit prescription drugs to seniors that could be useless or even dangerous.
  • Funeral scams like selling caskets to the surviving spouse of someone who will be cremated. On a related note, con artists read the obituaries and demand the grieving survivors pay a nonexistent debt.
  • Selling fake anti-aging products and claiming they are as good as legitimate products, like Botox.
  • Calling seniors on the phone and tricking them into sending money after a natural disaster by pretending to be a charity, or claiming that a relative is stranded and injured in another country. 
  • Sending emails to seniors to get their bank account and credit card information or to download fake antivirus software that gives the thieves access to the older adult’s computer and personal information.
  • Con artists who pretend to be financial advisors to get access to the senior’s accounts and then disappear with the money.

These are just a few examples of the many schemes people use to prey upon seniors and try to steal their life savings.

Do Not Be Afraid or Embarrassed About Reaching Out for Help or Advice

Many people suspect that something might be fishy, but they are embarrassed to ask anyone about their concerns, particularly if the senior already got scammed out of some money. Sometimes, seniors get ripped off by their own family members who threaten them with getting thrown out into the street if they tell anyone.

Criminals prey on these emotions, fear, and embarrassment, to get away with stealing money from older adults. Your local law enforcement is a great resource for help if you suspect that something is too good to be true or if you are having to hand over your money to others against your will.

Have a “Buddy” System

What might sound legitimate to one person could set off alarm bells for another. Set up a buddy system with a trusted friend or relative who will look over your shoulder in exchange for you doing the same for them.

Stay Active and Involved in Your Community

When someone becomes isolated from their community, they are a natural target of fraudsters. Staying active and involved in your community gives you a valuable resource to evaluate would-be con artists because you can ask others about the reputation of those who might try to scam you. A California estate planning attorney can answer your questions and help you set up legal protections for your assets. Get in touch with our office today; we offer a free consultation.