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Will Your Grandma Be a Victim of Financial Abuse

What to watch out for when preventing financial scams perpetrated against the elderly.
Douglas Goldstein

Douglas Goldstein.

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Have you ever met the kind of guy that would sell his own grandmother down the river?

Since more and more elderly people are being swindled and financially abused every day, it’s crucial to learn how to protect your grandmother and other seniors you care about.

Why are the elderly so susceptible to financial abuse? After all, chances are that they worked for many long years and have achieved the wisdom of experience. While they were young and fit, they surely had the opportunities to protect themselves, so what makes them vulnerable now?

Three reasons the elderly get scammed

1. Generally, as individuals grow older they tend to become more isolated from others. Perhaps their spouse has passed away and their children don’t live close by. The loneliness and isolation that this creates can make a person more vulnerable and open to parting with money… if it leads to companionship. For example, if Grandma is suddenly bombarded with invitations to free lunches and seminars, she may at first go simply for the company rather than any real interest in the subject of the event. She may find herself “befriended” by the organizers and convinced to invest in a dubious scheme because her defenses are down now that these people have been so “nice” to her.

2. Modern technology. An elderly person who has little experience with computers and knows only how to send or reply to an email may easily fall prey to scams such as fake charitable appeals asking for a credit card number in order to make a donation, a bank password for depositing some unexpected funds that don’t really exist into his account, and so forth.

3. The worst threat of all: seemingly concerned relatives and caregivers who have their own hidden agenda. One of my clients recently told me that she had to fire her elderly father’s home healthcare worker because he had almost managed to get the old man, an Alzheimer’s sufferer, to write him into his will. The caregiver was caught just in time. And then there are the unscrupulous relatives who have been given power of attorney for a relative and they gradually whittle away all their resources until there is nothing left at all.

Sadly many of these offenses go unreported because the victims may be too embarrassed to admit that they made such a big mistake, or no one is monitoring the situation.

If you’re caring for an elderly parent or grandparent, keep an eye on what’s going on, both with their physical health and fiscal health. If you have power of attorney over their bank account, review it periodically and investigate suspicious activity. Find out what’s happening if unexpectedly large sums are disappearing. Observe all caregivers, and do strict background checks on any much younger new “loves” or prospective new spouses who suddenly appear.

Protect Grandma and other seniors in your life from becoming victims of fraud by educating yourself about how to be vigilant against scams and implementing  tips against elder fraud. After all, a broken hip may be easier to fix than a broken bank account.

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About the Author: Douglas Goldstein, CFP®, is the director of Profile Investment Services, Ltd, a financial planning firm located in Jerusalem. He specializes in working with clients in New York, Florida, and Israel and is a licensed financial professional both in the U.S. and Israel. Securities are offered through Portfolio Resources Group, Inc., Member FINRA, SIPC, MSRB, SIFMA. Accounts held at Pershing LLC., Member NYSE/SIPC, a subsidiary of The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation. Neither Profile nor PRG gives tax or legal advice. Before immigrating to Israel, it is advisable to consult with a tax attorney who is knowledgeable about Israeli law. Doug’s newest book The Expatriates’ Guide to Handling Money and Taxes is available at www.expatguidetomoney.com. He hosts a weekly finance show, Goldstein on Gelt, on internet radio. Listen live or download podcasts. Toll-free from U.S. 1-888-327-6179, Jerusalem: (02) 624-2788. Follow on Twitter: @DougGoldstein or contact at doug@profile-financial.com.


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