How to Avoid Become a Victim of Financial Elder Abuse
1. Choose a Caregiver with Caution
Do not assume that by hiring a caregiver through a bonded agency you are guaranteed to get someone who has been checked.
2. Keep an Inventory of All Jewelry
Jewelry is the number one item that is stolen from homes occupied by elders. Not only should you keep jewelry in a locked drawer. You also should photograph your items and keep the pictures in a separate location. In the event of a theft, the pictures will be useful in tracking down the missing jewelry at a pawn shop.
3. Every Home Should Have a Shredder
Every piece of mail containing your name, address, and any other identifying information should be shredded before being discarded. The most effective type of shredder is the criss-cross cut shredder. Even envelopes with your name and address should be shredded. Never throw away old checkbooks from closed accounts or bank credit card application forms. There is no danger in over-shredding.
4. Protect Your Incoming and Outgoing Mail
Never allow incoming mail to remain in an unsecured mailbox for a protracted period. Similarly, never leave outgoing mail in an unsecured mailbox with the red flag raised for extended period.
5. Obtain a Credit Search on Yourself at Least Two or Three Times Per Year
Identity theft is rampant. One way to preserve your peace of mind is to obtain a credit check from one of the three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, or Trans Union) two to three times per year. This will enable you to discover whether someone has applied for or obtained a credit card in your name.
6. Have Every Telephone Equipped with Caller Identification
All modern telephones are equipped with Caller I.D. capability and the cost can be well worth it in terms of protecting you from fraudulent callers.
7. Consider Having a Duplicate Copy of Your Monthly Bank Statement Sent to a Trusted Family Member or Professional Advisor
Many financial elder abuse cases are discovered or reported six to nine months after the initial illegal losses. Elders whose sight is failing are at greater risk because they may rely upon the very person who is stealing from them to ensure that financial transactions are in order. An independent pair of eyes able to review bank statements every 30 days can help to protect you.
8. Don't Assume that the Friendly Handyman Is Licensed
Before committing to any work on your home, try to obtain three competing estimates in writing and check on the name of the contractors with the Better Business Bureau. Just because someone gives you a fancy business card with a contractor's license number on it does not mean that person is, in fact, qualified or licensed.
9. Always Have a Second Line of Defense at Your Front Door
You should either have a locked screen door or a security chain guard at your front door. Crooks will attempt to gain entry to your home by using excuses such as a fake emergency, or false uniforms and badges.