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Elder Abuse Awareness Tips

According to the National Council on Aging, approximately 1 in 10 Americans aged 60+ have experienced some form of elder abuse and that only 1 in 14 cases of abuse are reported to authorities. Though, unfortunately, there are several types of elder abuse, Pentucket Bank is especially cognizant of financial exploitation. Several of our staff members volunteer for organizations that are dedicated to serving the elders in the community, with one of them being our BSA Officer, Rich Aziz. Rich is a Certified Fraud Examiner and volunteers his time on the Advisory Council at Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley. We are passionate about protecting the elderly from financial crime! Here are a few tips that Rich would like to pass along:

Red Flags

Though not all-encompassing, there are several ways to spot financial abuse. Mainly, look for sudden changes in the older person’s financial situation. This includes:
  • Suspicious changes in wills or powers of attorney – Out of the blue, your grandfather wills all of his belongings to his new nurse.
  • Financial activity the person couldn’t have done herself – You discover repeated ATM withdrawals from your bedridden mother’s bank account.
  • Bills not being paid – When visiting a neighbor, you see mail piling up on his desk. Maybe his caregiver is using his money for something other than paying bills.
  • Significant withdrawals or unusual purchases – You notice charges for fancy electronics on your thrifty aunt’s credit card bill
 

Telephone Scams

One of the most common types of scams is by telephone. The scammer uses lies, deception, and fear tactics to convince the elder to send them money or provide personal account information.
 
In addition to the prevalent “IRS scam” where a scammer poses as the IRS and scares you into sending them funds, another example is the “grandparent scam” where an imposter calls a grandparent pretending to be a grandchild in trouble. The scammer is usually crying making it hard to recognize the grandchild's voice and pleads for the grandparent to immediately wire money and not tell any family members for fear of upsetting them. Many people will immediately jump to the assistance of the grandchild and won't ask questions until later. They also know that many older people will have experienced a hearing loss and won't detect any differences from their grandchild's voice.
 
Tips for avoiding telephone scams:
  • Never “pay to play.” A legitimate sweepstakes will not ask for money upfront.
  • You cannot win a sweepstakes or lottery that you did not enter.
  • Be suspicious of any pressure to send funds via wire transfer or a pre-paid reloadable card.
  • Pay attention to warnings from your financial institution that a request sounds like a scam. Your banker may have encountered similar situations in the past.
  • Scammers often claim an emergency, hoping you will take quick action without checking out the situation. Before offering help to a grandchild (or another relative or friend), be sure to telephone your grandchild or the parents at a number you know to be valid to find out if the request is legitimate.
  • If a caller claims to be from an established organization such as a hospital or law enforcement agency, look up the number of the organization independently before taking action.
  • Consider it a red flag if the caller insists on secrecy. Never allow anyone to isolate or discourage you from seeking information, verification, support and counsel from family members, friends or trusted advisors prior to making any financial transaction.
 

How Can You Help?

  • Listen to seniors and their caregivers.
  • Intervene when you suspect elder abuse. Anyone can report elder abuse.
  • Educate others about how to recognize and report elder abuse.

Massachusetts Residents

Executive Office of Elder Affairs Hotline (24 hours, 7 days a week).
1-800-922-2275

 

New Hampshire Residents

Bureau of Elderly & Adult Services (BEAS)

Contact BEAS from 8-4:30, Monday-Friday at (800) 949-0470 or (603) 271-7014.

 

For Nursing or Assisted Living Facilities

Contact the Long Term Care Ombudsman at (800) 442-5640 or (603) 271-4375.

 

Call 911 or the local police after hours, weekends or holidays.

 

Additional Resources