Financial crimes against the elderly are more common than many people realize. Our elderly family members, neighbors, and friends are easy targets of bad people and it is our duty to protect them and ensure those who victimize them are brought to justice. This blog will provide a few pointers on preventing crimes from occurring:
- You can never be too careful! Regardless of whom the caregiver is in mom or dad’s home, always visit regularly or have a third party in the home on a regular basis. Look at your loved one’s home as if you are a total stranger. You may even want to bring in a trusted but unfamiliar face to the surroundings to truly get an altruistic and unbiased view. Remember, no matter how uncomfortable, “think like a thief!”
- The easiest items are jewelry, money, and financial instruments (checks, debit/credit cards, etc.). These can easily be placed in a pocket and can be chalked up to being “lost”. Always lock up these items in a safe or a completely secure area behind lock and key.
- Reconcile bank statements and beware of suspicious or missing checks. Checks out of sequence are a big red flag.
- If your loved one is paying someone for a service outside of what you contracted, remove the caregiver immediately! Taking advantage of an elderly person’s naivety, kindness, or diminished capacity is as big a crime as petty theft.
- If things begin to go missing, do not assume! This can protect the caregiver and the client. Watch for patterns and immediately investigate everything.
- Never allow a caregiver to have too much control over your loved one’s affairs. Establishing firewalls, or checks and balance systems, is always a good idea. For example, if your caregiver pays mom’s bills, a separate person should open the mail and reconcile the bank statements. Think of running a household like it’s a business!