Happy Tuesday! I hope all of my readers are doing well. If you read my post yesterday then you know I have been tied up doing stuff related to my wallet being stolen. Today, I put a freeze on my SS number because I was not sure if it was in my wallet or not. After I did that I checked my credit report and it looks like the Bozos may have tried to apply for credit in my name just today. My husband said he didn’t think they would be smart enough to do that. I am glad I listened to my gut instinct and didn’t underestimate their intelligence. If you ever get your Social Security card stolen it is very easy to put a freeze on your number so any applications for credit have to be authorized by you first.
Last week I had to attend a staff meeting for our yearly education on elder abuse and neglect. The presenter mentioned if anyone had seen the Netflix movie, I Care A Lot. I had never heard of it and I jotted down the name for reference. She made it sound like the movie had great information regarding the issue of Guardianship and Financial Abuse against the elderly. I sat down to watch it a couple of days ago. Below are my thoughts.
First off I was very disappointed that any professional working with the elderly would consider the movie I Care A Lot, to be a serious movie to bring attention to the issue of elder financial abuse. As far as a movie goes it was a good movie. I would even consider watching it again. However, for the topic it was mentioned to me it was not a good example. It was exaggeration, humor, extreme is a nice word, just flat out ridiculous. I won’t give away the plot. Watch it for yourself. Below are some real stats on financial elder abuse. I will cover the topic of guardianship later. It is a very complicated topic. If the movie brings awareness to the issue then I will be happy, but I think most people are just going to consider it entertainment and not serious.
Financial Elder Abuse is a huge issue in the USA. These stats were taken right from the National Council On Aging Website.
Approximately one in 10 Americans aged 60+ have experienced some form of elder abuse. Some estimates range as high as five million elders who are abused each year. One study estimated that only one in 24 cases of abuse are reported to authorities. This is for all abuses, not just financial abuse.
The signs of Financial Elder Abuse are: unpaid bills, fraudulent signatures on forms, unusual or sudden changes in spending habits wills or other financial documents. See the image below from their website where you can learn more about signs of Financial Elder Abuse.
While likely under-reported, estimates of elder financial abuse and fraud costs to older Americans range from $2.6 billion to $36.5 billion annually. That is a shocking amount of money being stolen from the elderly.
If you need help: If an older adult is in immediate, life-threatening danger, call 911. Anyone who suspects that an older adult is being mistreated should contact a local Adult Protective Services office, Long-Term Care Ombudsman, or police. NCEA describes various scenarios and ways to Get Help, and more information is available from the Eldercare Locator online or by calling 1-800-677-1116.
How to prevent Financial Elder Abuse:
Education of the public on this topic is essential.
If you are an elder you can take care of your health, have a Will, Health Care Proxy or other legal forms so your wishes are known in a legal way. Please note just telling someone they are your Health Care Proxy or Executor of your estate does not make it so. It has to be legally written, drawn up, signed and notarized to actually be honored by the court system. This is extremely important if you want to protect yourself. Even if you don’t have any money it will protect your rights. Don’t isolate yourself. Isolating yourself will make you lonely and possibly more vulnerable. Keep up with your doctors appointments and discuss difficult topics like loneliness and depression. Be careful of substance abuse it can decrease your inhibitions. If you don’t have family speak to a lawyer about options for a Living Will and other items to protect you in your Golden Years. Never share your personal information over the phone, especially with an unverified caller. Don’t fall for their scare you tactics like you will go to jail if you don’t do such and such. Don’t be afraid to contact authorities to see if there are scam calls or emails going around and report them if you get them. The same goes for emails. No official company should be asking you for payment in an email. Request an official invoice and always go right to the website not via click link in an email. Don’t carry your social security card. I just had to put a freeze on mine and the website said you don’t even need the card most of the time anymore just knowing your number is fine. Never give out passwords or Pins. This is hard when you are elderly and maybe you can’t get out as much. Make it a priority to plan for this possibility in your future.
It really bothers me that there are so many thieves and unscrupulous people in this world. Don’t think they are all strangers either. Friends, family, coworkers, even a spouse or significant other can be a thief and con artist.
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