Friday, December 14, 2012

Ways to Prevent Financial Elder Abuse

During last week’s Glenner luncheon in La Jolla, private fiduciary (and current Glenner Centers chair of the board) Julie Sugita discussed the growing issue of elder abuse, focusing on money issues since it was a financially focused event.

Those of us still young enough and able minded can never picture ourselves being taken advantage of, especially by a child or trusted friend. But millions of elderly citizens do indeed fall victim to ruthless relatives and scamming strangers.

Among the documents Julie distributed was one on how to protect yourself from abuse, neglect and exploitation that’s produced by the National Center on Elder Abuse. Here are some tips:

•  Get on the National Do Not Call Register (or put your parents’ and grandparents’ on it) to reduce telemakreting calls. You can visit or call (888) 382-1222.

•  Most “prizes” and investment offers received in the mail, on the phone or over the Internet need to be very carefully scrutinized. That’s because most are too good to be true.

•  Consult with someone you trust before making a big purchase, and do not make immediate decisions due to pressure or intimidation.

•  Don’t sign any documents you don’t completely understand without first talking to an attorney or trusted family member (that is not involved in the document).

•  Don’t give our personal information over the phone unless you placed the call. That means if someone calls you and asks for your Social Security number or credit card number, don’t give it to them.

•  Make sure you shred credit card reciepts, bank statements and another other documents with personally identifiable information before you put them in the trash. Thieves rummage through trash bins looking for such information, even at landfills.

•  Be sure anyone you hire to do work at your home or to provide you in-home care is properly screened, including a criminal background check. This last point is particularly important because almost daily we hear or read of seniors or disabled adults being beaten or robbed by a hired caregiver they found on Craigslist. The lure of $10 an hour help can be tempting, but if you go that route instead of hiring through a licensed agency, be triply sure that person is trained in elder care and that another family member, if possible, handles financial transactions (or at least has the ability to monitor accounts) to help reduce the change of theft and fraud.

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