Family/Caregiver Fraud

While we all want to trust friends, family and kind strangers, it’s important to be vigilant. Some caregivers and loved ones have been caught syphoning retirement accounts or falsely fling for power of attorney. Contractors and door-to-door salesmen have misled people into costly financial commitments. Recently, “sweetheart” scams have ensnared lonely hearts into manipulative virtual relationships.

Caregiver Fraud & Power of Attorney

Caregivers and families have been caught abusing power of attorney to take property. Others have been found opening new credit cards in seniors’ names or discreetly syphoning funds from bank accounts. It’s crucial to keep an eye out for signs of manipulation.

Signs & Tips

  • Frequently review your checking, savings, retirement and credit card accounts to monitor for any large or recurring unexpected charges. If any are found, work with your bank to identify the If the charges are found to be fraudulent, report the issue to Adult Protective Services and/or local law enforcement.
  • Has a new friend or distant family member taken an unexpected interest in your life? If so, be wary of any requests to sign documentation, go to the bank or access wills, trusts or other important financial items. They may attempt to use the legal system to take power of attorney, giving them access to your property.
  • Have any checks, credit cards, or other items gone missing? If you expect someone you know has stolen them, be sure to contact Adult Protective Services for more information about elder financial abuse, click here.

Unscrupulous Salespeople & Contractors

Some salespeople and construction contractors take advantage of people’s trust and generosity, signing them up for exorbitant expenses without fully disclosing hidden fees, recurring charges or accurately explaining contract commitments.

Signs & Tips

  • Common door-to-door scams include magazine subscription or food sales, where products are overpriced and often never delivered, unscrupulous “tree trimmers” or “handymen” that make unnecessary repairs.
  • Other scams are even more brazen. “Free” energy audits have been offered by semi-official looking “workers,” then while one conducts the “audit,” the other steals valuables. In other cases, fake medical workers or surveyors will ask you to fill out paperwork with sensitive personal information, then steal your identity. Prevention is easy —just say, “no thank you!”
  • Unscrupulous home contractors will sign people up for terrible deals with large or long-term financial signs of a bad contractor include pushy sales tactics, handwritten or confusing contracts, and no evidence of state or local licensing. It is always wise to seek a second opinion before committing to costly repairs and to always take your time reading the small print.

Sweetheart Scams

One of the most insidious scams targets lonely adults looking for companionship and love. “Sweetheart” or “romance” scams start just like many real relationships do, with a conversation on social media or a dating app. Then, after a brief period of time, the so-called partner takes advantage of a senior’s generosity.

Signs & Tips

  • Beware of potential suitors that force you to move too quickly, for example, by asking you to shift from a dating app or social media to email or the phone.
  • Always research the suitor. Look at their social media posts to see if they are original or if they have been posted elsewhere. Some scammers will use stock photos in their profile pictures to hide their true identities.
  • Be suspicious if the individual refuses to meet in person. If it’s been more than a few months, you should have met by now. Scam artists often will claim they are working in another state or country, then ask for money due to an unexpected “legal issue” or “medical emergency.” Never give them your bank account information or Social Security number. Refuse to wire them money —wires are irreversible and untraceable.

Report Fraud