Welcome back for the last of this three part blog series on best practices to avoid becoming victimized by elder financial abuse. Let's get started where we left off last time.
No. 7: Never pay anyone up front in furtherance of collecting on a sweepstakes or lottery "winning." Sometimes scam artists will call seniors and tell them that they have won and all they need to do is wire over a payment to cover the taxes on the earnings. This is almost always a trap designed to make you part ways with your hard earned cash. Either hang up the phone or, if you're not inclined to give up, ask the person to send you over written paperwork to support their claims.
No. 8: Be wary whenever a caretaker starts to share personal financial difficulties he or she is experiencing. This is often a ruse designed to tug at your heartstrings and get you to offer to help out by peeling off a few hundreds. Sometimes this progresses into a long term fleecing scam.
No. 9: Obtain and review your credit report at least one time per year. You may want to seek assistance with this process in order to properly decode the information on your credit report. Ask a trusted family member, an accountant/CPA or your attorney for help.
Credit reports can reveal new accounts that have been opened up in your name, helping you to discover if your identity has been stolen. Protecting yourself depends on how fast you can identify a theft and get help to fix the problem.
You are entitled to get a free copy of your report from www.annualcreditreport.com once every 12 months. If you need or want to check it more often than that or also invest in "insurance" products that may help resolve problems on your behalf, there are credit monitoring services you can utilize (e.g., www.lifelock.com ) which, for a fee, will allow you to check things out and keep an eye out for suspicious activity on a more frequent basis than just one time per year. Costco offers reduced price credit monitoring and identity protection services through Complete ID (related to Experian) for around $15 per month for adults.
No. 10: If you or a loved one suspects that abuse is occurring, the name of the game is speed in reporting the problem. The sooner the matter is brought to the attention of authorities, the more likely it is that the problem can be resolved without snowballing out of control. In California, all suspected elder abuse issues should be reported to the Bureau of MediCal Fraud and Elder Abuse at (800) 722-0432. You should also report the matter to Adult Protective Services for your county.
We hope that this series of blog posts has been helpful and enlightening for you. Stay vigilant and contact Benjy Law Corporation with your questions or concerns. We are here to help any way we can.
In closing, remember that this area is always developing. Make sure to check back with our blog routinely to learn more tips to help protect yourself and others from financial elder abuse.