Preventing Fraud And Abuse Among Seniors

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Kim Syrop, senior vice president of consumer loss management at Webster Bank, talks about an event being held tomorrow (Feb. 5) in West Hartford that will talk about things seniors can do to avoid becoming the victim of a financial scam.

The event, weather permitting, will be held at the West Hartford senior center, 15 Starkel Road, from 1 to 2 p.m.

Below are some questions with answers provided by Syrop. For more information, click here.

What is financial abuse?

Financial abuse is the theft or embezzlement of money or any other property from an elder. It can be as simple as taking money from a wallet and as complex as manipulating a victim into turning over property to an abuser. Opportunists see the “golden years” as the perfect time to rob seniors of their life’s savings. The impact of this crime goes far beyond the financial loss and can threaten an elder’s health and dignity

What are some of the behavioral signs?

Some behavioral warning signs of potential elder abuse are: the elder is withdrawn, confused or extremely forgetful, depressed, helpless or angry, hesitant to talk freely, frightened, or secretive. Additionally, an elder could be isolated or lonely with no visitors or relatives. Family members or a caregiver could be isolating the individual, restricting their contact with others. The elder might not be given the opportunity to speak freely or have contact with others without the caregiver being present.

What are some of the financial warning signs?

Some financial warning signs are: unusual bank account activity, such as ATM withdrawals when the individual is homebound; signatures on checks and other documents that do not resemble the elder’s signature; numerous unpaid bills when someone else has been designated to pay the bills; a change in spending activity; or a new acquaintance who offers to manage the elder’s finances and assets.

Who might be the abuser?

  • Family members
  • Caretakers – paid or volunteer
  • Strangers – met in public, over the phone, or those who come to the door
  • Professionals hired by the elder or family

How do you protect yourself or your loved one?

  • Never give personal information to anyone who phones you
  • Never pay a fee or taxes to collect sweepstakes or lottery “winnings”
  • Never rush into a financial decision
  • Consult with a financial advisor or attorney before signing any document you don’t understand
  • Do not allow hired care providers to open mail or handle any financial transactions
  • Monitor credit reports regularly

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