Experts offer advice on spotting and preventing elder abuse
Tips for family on spotting elder abuse
• Stay actively involved in your family member’s life.
• Take notice of any unusual bank or credit card activity.
• Take notice of multiple deliveries from online and/or department stores.
• The suspected abuser tries to isolate the elder, so he or she becomes totally depended on the abuser.
• New acquaintances of the suspected abuser move in with the elder.
Tips for elders to prevent being victimized
• Always get two or three opinions.
• No matter how much you trust or love someone, always read and understand any document before signing it.
• If you do not understand a document, seek advice from a third-party trusted advisor or attorney.
• Insist on reviewing your own financial documents yourself.
• Surround yourself with trusted advisors.
• Have a trusted third-party review your financial documents to assist you.
• Beware of door-to-door sales persons who use high pressure sales tactics or offer a deal to good to be true.
• Never, under any circumstances, give a caller any portion of your bank account number, credit card number or social security number.
• Sign up for the “Do Not Call Registry.”
• Shred all material containing your personal and/or financial information before your put it out with your trash.
• Never leave outgoing mail attached to your mail box.
• Ask for new or replacement checkbooks be mailed to your bank for pickup and not your residence.
—Source: San Diego Police
Additional elder abuse prevention tips
Paul Greenwood, head of Elder Abuse Prosecution at the San Diego District Attorney’s Office, provides these tips:
• 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. There is no current law requiring mandatory background checks for in-home caregivers in California.
• Keep and inventory of all jewelry: Jewelry is the number one item that is stolen from homes occupied by elders. Not only should your jewelry be kept in a locked drawer, you should have photographs of rare, valuable or sentimental items in a separate location.
• Conduct a self-credit search two or three times per year: Identity theft is rampant. The only way to have peace of mind is to obtain a credit search periodically from one of the three major credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax and Trans Union. This will enable you to discover whether someone has applied for or obtained a credit card in your name.
• Every telephone should have caller ID: Seeing if the incoming call is classified as “private” or “unknown” will allow you to be on your guard. Crooks love the telephone. It is their weapon of choice.
• You will never win the Canadian lottery: If a smooth talking caller says you are the proud winner of the Canadian lottery, he or she is lying. Similarly, if you get an email from Nigeria or letter from Madrid indicating that you could receive a substantial amount of money, such communications are always fraudulent.
• Have your bank send a duplicate statement to a trusted family member or financial advisor: Elders whose sight is failing are at greater risk because they may rely upon the very person who is stealing from them to insure that the financial transactions are in order. An independent pair of eyes that is able to look over bank statements every 30 days will be able to catch suspicious activities in the early stages.
• Always have a second line of defense at your front door: 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. By having a second line of defense, you will be able to communicate with the stranger on the doorstep without exposing yourself to the possibility of a forced entry. Never allow any stranger into your home, even if the emergency seems real. Instead, tell the stranger you will call 911.
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