Another major concern as your loved one ages or is diagnosed with a debilitating condition is increased vulnerability to being taken advantage of–and not always by strangers.  Some types of fraud to watch for include the following:

•          Home repair fraud, such as unnecessary repairs to foundations, roofs, driveways, and trees;

•          Dishonest door-to-door solicitations and scam charities;

•          Long distance fraud through telephone, email, and mail;

•          Credit card misuse and identity theft;

•          Abuse of a power of attorney by taking funds for personal use; or

•          Family members frightening the senior into giving up financial resources.

You may see indications that a person is being victimized, such as:

•          Unexplained changes in bank balances and investments;

•          Large cash withdrawals;

•          Payment overdue notices, unpaid utilities, and lapsed insurance policies; and

•          Signs of physical or emotional abuse.

Proactive steps should be taken to help prevent such victimization. This includes planning in advance, delegating financial decision-making, and creating a power of attorney that names a trustworthy agent. In addition, moving money and investments into protected trust and banking arrangements can help. At a minimum, there should be increased supervision of finances to avoid the larger problems.

Another practical step to reduce the risk of fraud is to get an unlisted phone number. Also, you should use a service that will remove the senior’s name from various “junk mail” lists and reduce the amount of direct mail soliciting subscriptions and contributions. It is also important that Social Security and other checks be direct deposited as much as possible. It may help to check in by visiting or calling as well, to keep an eye on any signs that fraud or mismanagement of finances is taking place.

If you need to report suspected elder fraud, contact the North Carolina Department of Justice at 1-877-5-NOSCAM

Free Caregiver’s Guide:

Solid legal and financial planning is critical for a loved one with long-term care needs. Download our free Caregiver’s Guide to learn the critical information you need to know about caring for your loved one.

Jackie Bedard
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Attorney, Author, and Founder of Carolina Family Estate Planning