February 17, 2022 Fraud & Scams
How Caregivers Can Prevent, Detect, and Report Fraud, Abuse & Errors
Caregivers already do so much for those they care for physically and emotionally, but they can also play a huge role in protecting seniors from fraud, abuse, and errors. Since National Caregivers Day is this Friday, February 18, we wanted to share some information on how caregivers can help prevent, detect, and report these issues.
The most important way for a caregiver to protect an older adult from fraudulent activity is simply staying involved in their life. Not only does this mean you’ll be aware if it sounds like someone is trying to take advantage of them, but this also prevents feelings of loneliness and isolation, which can make them more vulnerable to being a victim of a scam.
More specific things you can do to protect your senior include:
- Stay up to date on common and current scams, especially ones targeting older adults. Inform the older adult how they can detect these scams and protect themselves.
- Set a reminder to review their Medicare Summary Notices (MSNs), Explanations of Benefits (EOBs), bank statements, and pension payments for suspicious activity.
- Review their credit report with them annually to make sure everything looks accurate.
- Keep a look out for red flags like the senior wiring large amounts of money overseas, visiting ATMs more frequently, or suddenly having overdraft notices.
- Help your older adult shred old or unwanted financial statements, medical statements, and receipts to reduce opportunities for others to access their personal information.
- Pay close attention if a senior mentions a new friend or a love interest suddenly appears, especially if they seem to be taking special interest in the senior’s finances or estate planning. This may be a scammer attempting to take advantage of any emotional vulnerabilities.
- Remind your loved one that they should not automatically trust that someone is who they say they are, whether it’s over the phone, online, or even in person. Someone might pretend to be from Medicare, Social Security, law enforcement, the utilities company, etc. Remember: an easy way to verify if one of these places is actually calling is to hang up on the unsolicited caller and call the organization directly yourself. Don’t just call back the number that showed up in your caller ID, make sure you call the number listed on that organization’s official website.
- Remind your loved one to never provide personal, financial, or medical information to someone asking for it, even if they say they must do so in order to keep their benefits or avoid jail time. These are never legitimate threats.
If your loved one confides in you or you suspect that they were scammed, approach the situation with sensitivity and support. They might be embarrassed to admit that they fell for the scheme, so it may help to remind them how common it is. Unfortunately, that is why scammers stay in business!
You can always contact Wisconsin SMP at 888-818-2611 or email email@example.com if you or your senior need help reporting suspected abuse, fraud, or errors.