The problem of financial abuse of seniors was highlighted again recently with the arrest in California of Charisma Denise Wells on charges related to illegally using the credit card of a 92 year old woman for whom Ms. Wells was serving as a temporary caretaker. Also recently a home health aide in Massachusetts was arrested on charges alleging she had used the ATM card of an elderly woman for whom she was caring to withdraw $500 per day from ATMs for a total of $60,000. The crime of financial scams perpetrated on elders is one that it is not just committed by outside scammers who exploit the vulnerability of seniors with money, but also by people close to the seniors, such as caretakers, friends and family.
New Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) rules which govern securities firms provide for seniors to have a trusted contact whom the broker can contact if there appears to be financial abuse and to put temporary holds on transactions that financial advisers believe to be fraudulent.
It is important for family members to assist older family members with their finances to avoid this type of financial exploitation. For seniors who are of sound mind and wish to manage their own affairs, the assistance can be merely a matter of “quality control” in which the trusted family member or members monitor bills, payments and investments. For seniors less able to manage their affairs, the assistance should include control over finances and should also include the involvement of more than one person in order to avoid conflicts of interest or the very type of exploitation which you wish to avoid.
The use of prepaid debit cards which can be set up to block certain transactions, such as wire transfers or lotteries in order to provide the elderly person with some measure of independence while also protecting him or her from scams. Also companies such as EverSafe https://www.eversafe.com/ provide services by which they monitor the elderly person’s bank accounts, investment accounts, credit cards and credit data to recognize possible financial abuse. Eversafe recognizes patterns and behavior that may be troublesome and promptly notifies a designated family member.
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