Elder Financial Exploitation
5 Steps to Protect Yourself from Financial Exploitation:
- Be familiar with common scams.
The Attorney General and the Indiana Banker's Association often alert the public to scams on their websites.
(Visit http://www.in.gov/attorneygeneral or http://www.inbankers.org/.)
Frequent scams in Indiana include:
- Home Repairs that you have not initiated
Example: Someone may charge you to repave your driveway but really just paint it black or dark gray.
- Sweepstakes or Phony Lotteries
Example: You may receive a notice in the mail that you have won the Canadian Lottery which claims that you must send them money for taxes.
- Promises to Return Lost Money
Example: You may have someone call you or send a letter promising to recover money you have lost from other frauds, but they charge you a fee (which is not returned.)
- Report questionable businesses and repair services.
Call your local Better Business Bureau or the Indiana Attorney General's Consumer Protection Line (800-382-5516) to find out if other consumers have made complaints about a particular business.
- Have your Social Security checks directly deposited.
With direct deposit, your checks are securely and automatically deposited into your bank account so you do not have to be concerned about the checks being lost or stolen. Sign up at your bank or credit union or call the Social Security Administration at 800-772-1213.
- Be cautious when using joint accounts.
By adding someone's name to your account, you are making that individual a joint owner. That person then has the power to withdraw the entire balance of the account and will inherit the money in the account at your death. Additionally, the joint owner's creditors may be entitled to the funds in the account. If you are establishing a joint account because you intend that the person inherit the funds, consider a “payable on death” (POD) designation. If you are establishing the account because you need help with paying bills, be very careful about who you choose. They should be honest, trustworthy, and not be in excessive debt.
- Know that you are not alone.
Unfortunately, many people are exploited by strangers, con artists, family members or caregivers every year. Many people do not report financial exploitation because they are embarrassed about the event. Failure to report only allows the exploiter to continue victimizing others. (See list of numbers for reporting.)