As the population of senior citizens in the United States continues to grow, so does the number of fraud complaints. The United States Justice Department has taken a hard stance against those who specifically target the elderly for fraud, but unfortunately hundreds of arrests and charges have not completely eradicated the problem. Not only does the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) continue to report a rise in financial abuse, research has shown that those who abuse the elderly financially are typically a friend, relative, or neighbor. While it is hard to imagine that anyone close to your family would take advantage of an elder relative, there are ways you can protect your loved ones from financial abuse.
Create Detailed Budgets
The average senior citizen lives on a fixed income, meaning that just one fraudulent transaction can throw their finances into confusion for months or longer. Things can become especially complicated if the elderly adult in question is not exactly sure when or how the fraud occurred. Creating a detailed budget helps your loved ones keep track of their strict income and makes it easier to see exactly where funds are going. Having a detailed budget makes it easier to recognize transactions that are abnormal and deal with financial abuse before it wreaks havoc on your family.
Secure All Documents
One of the reasons financial abuse is typically committed by someone close to the victim is because those closest to a victim have greater access to that person’s sensitive information. Once a person determined to commit fraud has a victim’s social security number, banking information, date of birth, and identification it is easy for them to take out new lines of credit, access accounts, and more. To avoid this, secure all personal documents in a safe with restricted access and be sure to check your loved one’s mail daily to prevent sensitive documents from being intercepted.
Perhaps most importantly, monitor your loved one’s bank accounts. Checking credit card and bank accounts daily helps you avoid overlooking fraudulent transactions that may be repeated by a perpetrator after the initial charge went unnoticed. Also, check your loved ones’ credit report regularly to ensure no new accounts are being opened in their names. If any new lines of credit or credit inquiries appear that they are unaware of, take steps to freeze access to their credit report and contact the three major credit bureaus immediately.
Talk to an Elder Law Attorney
If you are concerned about the financial well-being of an elderly adult, talking to an elder law lawyer is a good way to provide those closest to you with the long term protection that they need. An attorney who specializes in elder law can help develop a plan for keeping your loved ones’ assets safe from fraud or other forms of financial abuse. The compassionate attorneys at MMZ Law understand how sensitive this topic is, and we are here to offer your family the support they need. Contact us to schedule a consultation at our conveniently located Claremont, California location today so that we can begin providing you with the legal advice that you need.
BROUGHT TO YOU BY:
MMZ LAW, A PROFESSIONAL CORPORATION
341 W. 1st St. Suite 100
Claremont, CA 91711
MARIVEL M. ZIALCITA is the founder of MMZ LAW, A Professional Corporation, where she practices in the areas of Elder Law – Medi-Cal Planning Asset Protection, Trust & Estate, Special Needs, Conservatorship, Trust Administration, & Probate. Ms. Zialcita is a frequent speaker on trust and estate matters and holds memberships in the State Bar of California, Trust and Estate Section, The San Bernardino County Bar Association, Wealth Counsel and Elder Counsel. She currently assists in the pro bono legal services program at the James L. Brulte Senior Center in Rancho Cucamonga, California. She is based in Claremont but assists clients throughout Southern California.
This information is educational information only and not legal advice.