Elderly financial fraud and abuse are some of the worst crimes that a family could encounter, and these schemes are becoming more prevalent in modern society. Criminals are not only robbing people of their rightful money, but they are also preying on the vulnerability of people who have lived long enough to earn respect. Unfortunately, without proper eldercare in Montréal, sometimes the unthinkable happens, and an opportunistic scammer or con artist targets an elder family member and deprives them of their assets.
Once the money has been taken, it’s often extremely difficult—sometimes impossible—to recover, which is why preventing elderly financial fraud is so important. Awareness is one of the key factors in protecting those at risk. If you want to know how to fight against those who would try to take financial advantage of your elderly family members, we’re going to list some of the most common ways they occur. And we’ll show you what you can do to help prevent their success.
Elderly Financial Fraud Examples
Here are some of most common Elderly Financial Fraud tactics and what you can do to protect your loved one from becoming a victim.
The grandparent scam is, unfortunately, a pretty common tactic used against people without some sort of protective caregiver in Montréal. This scheme usually occurs over the telephone; which most older adults will still be more comfortable using. In this scam, the caller will often address their target as “Grandpa” or “Grandma,” and simply say “it’s me”, and claim he or she needs help. The elderly victim usually supplies the name of the grandchild at this point, or asks if it’s one name or another, and the scammer on the other end will simply agree.
At this point, the con artist will then claim that some emergency has occurred, such as a hospitalization, or an arrest for which bail is required. The scammer will emphasize both the importance of a quick response as well as “not letting mom or dad find out,” requiring secrecy from the elderly victim.
If possible, teach your elderly parent to get used to using a phone with a caller ID function. Demonstrate the usefulness of being able to see immediately that a call is truly coming in from children or grandchildren, and advise them only to answer the phone if the caller ID is one they recognize. Also be alert for phone calls at night, which is a favourite time for scammers to call as they rely on the elderly to be more disoriented and vulnerable if they have suddenly woken up to take a call. Finally, keep an eye out for your older relative asking you about or attempting to make a wire fund transfer of money, as this is usually the preferred method of receiving payment for scammers.
Home Repair Scam
This scam is one that can happen not just to people without home care in Montréal but also to any unsuspecting resident who happens to be at home. Home repair scams are an actual door-to-door tactic, where the scammers show up at a residence. They may either pose as a technician from a local utility company or even a provincial “energy employee” who is there to conduct an energy audit to find out how energy efficient a home is. They will insist on being allowed inside to investigate your home’s heating and cooling systems.
Once they get inside, they will conduct their investigation or audit, and immediately claim that there is an abundance of inefficiencies that need to be addressed. They may demand an initial deposit before work or improvement on the heating and ventilation can begin, or other repairs.
Home repair scams can be tricky because of the degree of illegitimacy may vary. In some cases, an HVAC company may actually be a 100% legal air conditioning and furnace company, but they are merely pushing to make a completely unnecessary sale or repair. In other cases, it might only be a partial scam, where a home repair company will do shoddy work, but continually find new “broken” things that need repairing. And finally, some of these attempts will be complete scams, where there will be no paperwork at all, just a demand for a cash deposit for which the elderly resident ultimately receives nothing in return.
Ironically, one way to discourage this type of scam, for older adults still living at home, is to ensure that the house is in good physical condition. Homes with visible roof, driveway or other problems are usually targeted by scammers, as that’s a good indication that it’s not a young, more proactive family residing in the structure, but someone older. When some type of repair or maintenance is required, start by asking neighbors or friends who have had similar work done who they recommend. Never let someone in your home who has just rung your doorbell to speak to you about repairs. Tell them it is not a good time and ask them to leave their card. If you use an unknown company, insist on getting references as well as credentials that can be checked. Book appointments for estimates at a time a family member can be there too so your loved one will not be pressured into an agreement. Ask that any offers of work be put in writing, including set completion dates.
Trusted Person Abuse
Trusted person abuse is probably the most tragic form that can occur because it can happen from a source no one was expecting; someone that should be providing loving senior care. Sadly, this kind of abuse is also one that is not all that uncommon, especially if the senior in question has accrued significant wealth, which is being sought after or contested.
Trusted person abuse can occur from family members, friends, or anyone who has regular access to the elderly person. This sort of abuse can be as simple as just taking cash or items, such as jewelry, that are accessible within the home. But it can be as severe as gaining access to bank accounts, investments, and other assets to either co-opt them for personal use or transfer funds from the older person.
One of the best ways you can detect trusted person abuse is by being vigilant about who has access to your relative. The most prominent sign that this kind of abuse is occurring is that the abuser will severely reduce—or completely limit—any ability to interact with the elderly victim. The reason this happens is, of course, because they worry about the elderly victim telling other people what has been going on. The best prevention for this kind of abuse, especially if significant finances and assets are involved, is to have an objective third party, preferably an accountant, actually monitoring all financial activities. As soon as sudden withdrawals, account closures, fund transfers, or even new investments start going through previously less active accounts, that’s always a clear sign, and you can act to stop it.
Elderly Financial Fraud General Prevention
One of the best ways to shield an elderly loved one from experiencing this kind of abuse is to take strong preventive measures. Plan ahead, especially if you’re at a stage where an elderly parent is still in full command of their faculties. Discuss the future, and the handling of finances once the older adult may no longer feel comfortable doing so. Look into home care options in Montréal, or even retirement residences, for an added layer of security.
Make sure to also discuss in advance considerations for power of attorney. This transfer can often be the “first line of defence” in preventing many forms of elderly financial fraud if it is planned in sufficient time. Power of attorney is the legal function that allows someone else, besides the senior, to have the legal authority to decide financial or medical matters. Sometimes these roles belong to two separate people, and sometimes they are rolled into one. Most importantly, however, someone with power of attorney can control and deny any sudden withdrawals or strange investment requests that may come about as a result of elderly financial fraud.
Start Thinking About the Future
If you have an aging relative who you want to make sure receives high-quality eldercare in Montréal, we can help. We have numerous options of retirement homes, caregivers, and other urgent home and medical care alternatives that ensure aging loved ones are both physically taken care of and even shielded from elderly financial fraud. If you’ve got any questions about the eldercare services we can provide for you and your loved one, please reach out to us with your questions and concerns. Together, we can ensure that your elderly loved one is treated with the dignity, respect, care, and safety that he or she has earned over a long life.