Elder fraud and financial exploitation have become an epidemic. As a Nashville elder law attorney, I am seeing more than ever before, con artists and family members alike taking advantage of their elderly relatives, friends, or neighbors. The numbers have only gotten worse with the Covid-19 pandemic and a larger aging population.
The best defense against elder fraud is having caring friends or family with the senior’s best interests at heart. But those friends and family can only prevent elder fraud if they know how to spot it.
What is Elder Fraud?
Broadly defined, elder fraud is when someone improperly (or illegally) uses or steals a vulnerable senior’s assets. Every state has a different definition of “elder fraud” or “financial exploitation” of an elderly person. In Tennessee, financial exploitation of elders or other vulnerable adults can be prosecuted under criminal and civil laws. Edler fraud is a form of Elder Abuse.
The 3 Common Financial Scams that Victimize Seniors
A recent survey identified the three most common scenarios of financial exploitation:
- Theft or diversion of funds or property by family members.
- Diversion of funds or property by caregivers.
- Financial scams perpetrated by strangers.
In the two most common scenarios of financial exploitation, the fraud is committed by someone who knows the elderly person. Most people think of fraud as emails from Nigerian princes or telephone scams. In reality, however, financial exploitation is commonly perpetrated by family and friends.
Another common misconception is that adults are only susceptible to elder fraud if they have a condition that can affect memory and reasoning skills. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 15-20% of elders 65 and older have some type of mild cognitive impairment. But it is important to recognize that any senior can fall victim to elder fraud, and many do.
How Can I Help a Senior Avoid Being Scammed?
There are a number of things you can do to help prevent your loved one from being taken advantage of. Start by educating them on the tell-tale signs of elder fraud and how to protect themselves.
Most importantly, if you are concerned that a loved one is being targeted by a financial predator or a loved one with bad intentions, you should seek help as soon as possible. That may mean calling the police, your loved one’s attorney, and in some cases, even the FBI.
As an Elder Law Attorney in Nashville, I am here to guide you through any of the issues that you may be facing. To schedule an appointment, simply call schedule a free 15-minute Initial Call and we’ll see if we can provide you with some guidance on what to do to help you avoid common scams that victimize seniors.