Elder abuse and nursing home neglect are crimes that aren’t confined to physical or emotional abuse. In fact, every year many older Americans become victims of financial mistreatment. A recent article in the New York Times reports that the AARP has developed a new interactive online tool—a map of sorts—to prevent fraudulent practices that target the elderly. The tool is available to California seniors and older adults across the country.
Are you concerned that your elderly loved one has been the victim of financial elder abuse? It’s very important to contact an experienced elder law attorney as soon as possible. Elderly financial abuse can prevent Americans from living comfortably during old age, and even worse, fraudulent schemes can prevent older adults from being able to pay for nursing home care or other expensive treatments they might require. At the Walton Law Firm, we have significant experience handling many different types of elder abuse claims. An elder justice advocate at our firm can talk with you today.
AARP’s Fraud Watch Network Map
What is this online fraud tool? The Fraud Watch Network tool is a national map created by elder advocates at AARP that arose from a fraud awareness campaign last autumn. According to the article in the New York Times, the online map is an interactive tool that “lets you click on your state and see notices about fraudulent activity in your area, both from consumers reporting their personal experiences and from state authorities.”
These reports range from “medical alert” scams reported by an attorney general to fraudulent email schemes urging older adults to open dangerous attachments. Other reports focus on Social Security scams, or situations in which someone creates an online Social Security account in the name of an elderly adult and has those monthly payments redirected.
The goal of the interactive online tool, according to Nancy LeaMond, the executive vice president at AARP, is “to help consumers more easily track illegal schemes that target them for financial fraud and identity theft.” LeaMond emphasized that “it’s to make sure that people are alerted to scams that are out there.”
Some commentators wonder whether the tool will be effective, since we don’t often think about elderly Americans spending a lot of time on the internet. However, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts, “56 percent of Americans aged 65 and older are online, and more than half of those who are online use social network sites.” Yet the online presence of older adults comes with the risk of increased opportunities for scammers to take advantage of vulnerable Americans who are relying on their retirement nest eggs in order to survive.
Keeping Elders Safe Online
The AARP emphasizes the importance of keeping older adults safe on the internet. How can you help your elderly loved one to avoid online scammers while still helping them to take advantage of tools like the fraud map created by AARP?
According to LeaMond, children and caretakers of older adults should do the following:
· Advise your parent not to open emails or attachments from people they don’t know. In many cases, these emails are attempts to get “malicious software” onto computers of elderly adults in order to secure information about their bank accounts, social security numbers, and so forth.
· Choose a safe password that’s at least 8 characters that contains uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. If your parent needs to write down the password, make sure to keep it in a safe place and do not label it as “password.”
It’s important to remember that consumer fraud schemes targeting older Americans aren’t always perpetrated by strangers. In fact, the elderly often are targeted by younger family members who seek to take advantage of their vulnerability. If you suspect that an older adult in your life might be the victim of financial abuse, it’s better to be safe than sorry. An experienced California nursing home abuse attorney can answer your questions for you today.
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