Money Protecting lonely seniors against financial abuse

09:20  13 august  2017
09:20  13 august  2017 Source:   Star Phoenix

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Financial abuse is the most common form of elder abuse in Canada. Financial abuse often starts after a health crisis or after the death of a spouse. A lonely senior in poor health can be vulnerable. Such abuse usually goes unreported — either due to the victim’s shame and embarrassment

What We Do. Protecting against Financial Abuse of the Elderly. And yet, seniors on fixed income have less margin of error for these common mistakes. California fortunately, has strong consumer protection laws in place to deter and to penalize financial abuse of the elderly.

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Financial abuse is the most common form of elder abuse in Canada.

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Alberta Health Protecting Against Financial Abuse © 2011 Government of Alberta. Checklist: Am I at risk of being financially abused ? Includes information about financial abuse of seniors , warning signs and what to do. www.health.alberta.ca What Every Older Canadian Should Know.

Seniors tend to be lonelier and needier for attention and interaction than younger adults who still drive, work or engage in social activities, leaving them more vulnerable to scams. Elder financial abuse is a broad umbrella that includes any illegal or improper use of an older person’s assets.

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Financial abuse often starts after a health crisis or after the death of a spouse. A lonely senior in poor health can be vulnerable.

Such abuse usually goes unreported — either due to the victim’s shame and embarrassment or because the older person has dementia and doesn’t even realize what is happening.

The abuser is usually someone who has a close connection to the victim. A family member or caregiver can take advantage and pressure an elderly person to do what they want.

For example, the abuser could bully or trick the senior into changing his/her will or signing over title to his/her home. The abuser could ask the senior to care for grandchildren for little or no money. The abuser could make frequent requests for loans and never repay them.

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Protecting your parent from financial elder abuse is an important parent care responsibility. The abuser befriends a lonely senior in person or over the phone or taps into greed by convincing the senior that he has won a prize.

Signs that a senior may be at risk: jjThey become socially isolated, depressed or. lonely . Seniors who discuss their finances are more likely to take preventative measures against financial abuse .

Laura Watts, a Toronto lawyer who focuses on elder law issues, says the “unsuccessful son in the basement” accounts for about 75 per cent of elder financial abuse cases perpetrated by family members.

How can a senior be protected against financial abuse?

Stay in contact with friends and family. Join a social or volunteer group. Encourage friends to regularly check to make sure that you’re okay. Don’t become isolated by someone who restricts access to you.

Guard against identity theft. Keep usernames, PINs and passwords in a safe place. Prevent fraudulent access to your financial accounts.

Review transaction statements for mysterious withdrawals from your bank account or credit card charges that you did not make.

Have your pension payments, RRIF withdrawals and tax refunds deposited directly into your bank account. Then, arrange to pay insurance premiums, utility bills and quarterly income tax instalments by automatic debits from your bank account.

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The CFPB's director, Richard Cordray, said that at his former post as Attorney General of Ohio, he saw many instances of financial abuse against seniors -- including "They can be lonely or overly trusting, and we now have many methods by which perfect strangers can communicate with them

Financial abuse against elderly victims is nothing new, but with an aging population and more Research from Allianz Life reveals that seniors who talk about their finances with a relative, friend or trusted professional are far likelier to take measures to protect themselves from financial abuse .

If you have no spouse, do not register your bank account in joint names with anyone else if you need some help in paying your bills. A joint account makes you vulnerable because the co-owner could withdraw all of your money without consulting you.

When you have your lawyer draw up your power of attorney (POA), appoint someone who does not need money. Consider choosing two people and requiring both signatures for every transaction so they keep each other honest.

Ask someone you trust, such as your accountant or financial advisor, to regularly monitor what is happening to your finances. Require the person acting as your POA representative to provide regular reports to your monitor.

If you or your professional advisor suspects financial abuse, call the public trustee, a provincial government official whose job is to protect vulnerable adults’ property and can investigate allegations of financial abuse.

Since privacy laws prevent information sharing, ensure that your professional advisor has your written authorization to confidentially report suspected financial abuse.

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What makes seniors vulnerable to financial abuse ? 4 Protecting Seniors from Financial Exploitation. What should a senior know about short-term “payday” loans? Dating and lonely hearts scams. Variants to these types of confidence swindles have always been What are some of the legal protections seniors have against financial exploitation, predatory lending, and financial scams?

Everyone is at risk of financial abuse , even people without high incomes or assets. Understand the top 10 most common scams targeting seniors , so you can spot one before it's too late. 2. Don't isolate yourself — stay involved!

Rather than have a registered retirement income fund (RRIF) that allows unlimited withdrawals, you can convert your RRIF to a life annuity, which pays you a guaranteed amount each month for the rest of your life. It is like a pension plan. Extra withdrawals are not possible.

Before signing documents involving the title to your home, get your own independent legal advice. Ask your lawyer to read the fine print of any contract you are asked to sign.

For more information there is a series of brochures called “What every older Canadian should know about” published by the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Ministers Responsible for Seniors Forum. It is an intergovernmental body that shares information and discusses issues related to seniors.

Terry McBride, a member of Advocis, works with Raymond James Ltd. The views of the author do not necessarily reflect those of Raymond James Ltd. Information is from sources believed reliable but cannot be guaranteed. This is provided for information only. We recommend that clients seek independent advice from a professional advisor on tax-related matters. Securities offered through Raymond James Ltd., member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund. Insurance services offered through Raymond James Financial Planning Ltd., not a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund.

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