The aging population can seem like easy pickings for those who prey on trusting and otherwise vulnerable people. Just as we lock our doors to keep the bad guys out of our homes, prevention is the key to fighting elder fraud.
Known and unknown.
Caregiver Fraud: The cruelest blow.
When you or a loved one are scammed by a person you know and had previously trusted, the sting is hard. When inviting people into your life to perform important duties it’s equally important to make sure they come from a reputable place.
Building a trusted team
Scammers thrive on offering fraudulent services to the elderly – especially in times of urgent need – by taking advantage of the elderly person’s anxiety and worry. Don’t wait for a crisis to happen. Get prepared by building your trusted team now so that you know that you have a safe, reliable place to turn in the future, so you won’t ever need a scammer’s “help.”
Your trusted team should be made up of any or all of the following:
- Financial Advisor/Financial Tool
- Home Repairperson
- Lawn Care/Landscaper
- Dependable Friend or Family Member
This final person on the list can help monitor the other members of the team, and help find other “team members” as needs arise.
Of all members of your team, the caregiver is the most important to vet and monitor carefully because of the access they have to the elderly person’s home and the person herself.
The Vetting Rules
Use only caregivers from reputable agencies that require background checks, drug screenings and the like for its employees. Make sure that the agency is also properly insured and bonded.
Ask for at least two references regarding a potential caregiver and speak to those references directly. Don’t rely only upon written statements provided by the agency or caregiver.
If you are out of town and cannot do so yourself, have a friend or family member drop in during the caregiver’s shifts. Make the visits random, keeping potentially unscrupulous caregivers off-guard and on-task.
Require all receipts from all purchases when the caregiver does the shopping. If possible, have the caregiver use cash or pre-paid cards for any purchases, rather than the elderly person’s personal checks or credit or debit cards.