When you or a loved one have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, the unknown journey ahead is overwhelming enough without also having to worry about someone taking advantage of the situation. Unfortunately, financial abuse scams that target Alzheimer’s patients and their families are despicable crimes that happens more often than you think.
According to the National Council on Aging, elder financial abuse costs older Americans $2.9 million to $36.5 billion annually. And these numbers are likely under-reported. They happen every day, and the reality is that anyone can fall victim to financial abuse scams. That is, unless we have the tools, resources, and information to take control over what happens next, even during a time when you may feel a bit powerless.
In my book, You’re not Alone: Living with Alzheimer’s Disease, we insist that you talk with family, friends, and financial professionals very early on about your finances. This includes how to be cautious when providing private information over the phone or the Internet, and how to avoid common financial abuse scams that target Alzheimer’s patients and their families.
7 Common Financial Abuse Scams to be Aware of Right Now
Before we get into a few common scams, here is a quick tip for family members. If you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s or a non-Alzheimer’s related dementia, be on the lookout for confusion, unpaid bills that they have the means to pay, sudden changes to wills, trusts, and other financial documents, and behavior that is out of character. You may also want to be wary of “new best friends” who appear to be getting more involved than what they should.
On top of that, here are 7 common financial abuse scams that target Alzheimer’s patients and their families.
This is something to attract you and cause you to pay less attention to detail. Scammers manipulate people into trusting them, and in this scam, they typically have some sort of deadline that they try to impose.
Almost any sweepstakes notification is a scam, especially if you know you haven’t or do not remember entering into any drawing. Often, they use a name that sounds official or authoritative to beef up their legitimacy, and they will likely ask for banking information to direct deposit your winnings. If you give it to them, they can steal your identity and your money.
This occurs when someone steals your personal information to gain access to your credit, bank accounts, medical care, or other assets.
Home improvement/repair scams
Say no to high-pressure sales tactics, handshake deals, and cash-only deals. Not all contractors are bad, but be wary if they contact you first — especially after a natural disaster.
This is when a caller claims to be a grandchild, charity, etc. and is in desperate need of money or a donation. If they claim to be a family member, confirm with another family member first to ensure they are who they say they are. Bottom line: never give away personal or financial information over the phone.
Trusted person exploitation
Because family members have a unique relationship with elders, Alzheimer’s patients, etc., they can often access that person’s financial information and commit financial scams and abuse. Look out for changes in investment style, attitude, or caregiver activity. Get to know family members and caregivers, and have an objective third party look over financial statements to ensure everything is okay.
These are investments that are recommended but are likely not in your best interest. Be cautious if the financial advisor is pressuring you to make a decision during a difficult stage in your life. The safe bet here is to never invest in anything you do not understand and always get written descriptions of investments.
Call Leigh Hilton PLLC today!
I realize the material in this blog post may be overwhelming and even scary, especially if you or a family member suffers from Alzheimer’s. Just remember that information is power. By being knowledgeable and exercising caution, the risk of falling for financial scams is very low.
Here are 11 more important reminders to consider before we wrap up this post:
1. Limit phone calls from strangers.
2. Never give out personal information to strangers in response to texts, emails, or calls.
3. Never wire money to strangers.
4. Review your financial account settlements at least monthly and address issues immediately.
5. Monitor your credit report.
6. Enlist a trusted family member or reputable bill-payment service.
7. Use caution when using joint accounts.
8. Execute a power of attorney and appoint someone you trust.
9. Never convey or quitclaim an interest in real estate without an attorney.
10. Use a document shredder.
11. Do not be a victim!
Please call Leigh Hilton PLLC if we can help answer any questions you have about the information in this blog post. Leigh Hilton PLLC wants to be your first call whenever any estate planning or elder law advice or action is needed.
We look forward to serving you.
Thanks for reading!