The holidays should be a magical time, full of friends, family and giving back. For older individuals, this time of year can turn devastating — holiday scams take advantage of the elderly’s giving spirit for financial gain. Each year, older adults in the U.S. lose nearly $36.5 billion from financial exploitation. Financial scammers ramp up during the holiday season, making it more important than ever to prevent your loved ones from falling victim.
Spotting Financial Elder Abuse
It can be difficult to identify a holiday scam since tactics frequently change over weeks, months and years. However, these scams always share one commonality — they will always involve handing over financial information for a seemingly good reason. Some common signs of a scam include:
- Calls related to family finances. Scammers often scare seniors into handing over their financial information to help their children or grandchildren out of supposed debt.
- Charity requests. Charity scams are common, with calls or emails claiming to be on behalf of a charitable organization. For example, someone may contact an elderly individual around the holidays and say they are collecting money for an impoverished family.
- Sweepstakes wins. Sometimes, callers will claim that a senior won a holiday sweepstakes and request details such as their bank account number to send them the money.
- Unfamiliar visitors. Some scammers will go as far as befriending an elderly person and taking advantage of their finances in person.
It is also important to note that the holidays can be a time where other forms of abuse fly under the radar. Families become busy with holiday preparations and fail to notice signs of physical or emotional abuse by caretakers. It is important to keep a close eye on your family members to support them during this time.
Supporting a Senior
The best way to prevent a holiday scam is to take preventative measures with your loved ones or keep a close eye on their activities. We recommend that you support the seniors in your life by:
- Providing social support. Seniors often fall victim to scams due to loneliness or lack of communication with others. Family members and friends should check in on their loved ones and spend time with them, especially around the holidays.
- Discussing the possibilities. Seniors should be informed of the signs of a scam. Advise them not to hand over their information to someone they do not know, whether that be over the phone or over email.
- Giving caregivers a break. Family members may not see their loved ones as often as they would like. If your elderly relative has a caretaker, be sure to give them some time off for the holidays. Their schedule is likely busy around this time too, which could lead to neglect or failing to see the signs of financial abuse themselves.
- Watching closely. Check your family members’ bank accounts for large sums of money going missing. This could mean that they are actively sending money to a scammer or that their bank account information has become compromised.
An open line of communication with your family member can show you the signs of a scam early on. Even a quick conversation with them may reveal a weird call they received or an email they responded to.
Fighting Back against Holiday Scams
This holiday season, take the time to check in on the seniors you love before a scammer gets to them first. If your loved one has fallen victim, attorneys at Casey Devoti Brockland are ready to take on the case and fight for the return of every penny lost. Have you spotted signs of your loved ones experiencing a holiday scam? Contact our elder abuse attorneys to discuss the next steps against financial elder abuse.