Financial abuse costs elderly Americans more than $2.6 billion a year. Help educate yourself and your elderly loved ones about this serious form of abuse by following these simple steps.

Step 1: Recognize the “red flags” of fraud. Fraud can manifest itself in many ways, including:

  • Promises to win or make money easily
  • Attempting to scare an individual into purchasing something
  • Refusal to send information before the senior agrees to buying

In these circumstances, seniors should know that it is illegal for companies to ask someone to pay money in order to receive prize winnings or suggest that a purchase will increase chances of winning a prize. Also, there is no reason to give credit card or banking information to a telemarketer unless a purchase is actually being made, and if payment is “required” before receiving information about an offer, it is likely a scam.

Step 2: Recognize financial victimization. An elder may be in danger of being financially victimized if he or she:

  • Receives a lot of mail for contests or sweepstakes
  • Gets calls from people offering deals or requesting donations to charities
  • Subscribes to a large number of magazines
  • Has difficulty paying bills
  • Receives lots of cheap “knick-knacks” as “prizes”

Remember, don’t be overly critical of your loved one if he or she has fallen for telemarketing or other financial scams. Con artists are very good at what they do and often prey on the elderly who are lonely and enjoy having someone to talk to.

If your loved one has been victimized in these ways, report actual or attempted fraud to the National Fraud Information Center, 800-876-7060. That information will be transmitted to law enforcement agencies. Change the elder’s phone number if con artists call repeatedly, and change his or her bank account or credit card numbers if they have fallen into the hands of thieves. Contact Live Free Home Health Care for further information on how to protect your loved ones from elder abuse.