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Category: Elder Abuse

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What is the Seniors Fraud Prevention Act?

In 2013, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) worked with his colleague, U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) to introduce the “Seniors Fraud Prevention Act” which broadens the role of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in monitoring and offering response systems for seniors who are victims of fraud. So what is the Seniors Fraud Prevention Act?

They’ve been advocating for their bill for seven years. The two Congressmen revived it in April 2019, with the support of U.S. Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT).

Florida Daily’s recent article entitled “Florida Congressmen Get Seniors Fraud Prevention Act Through the House” reports that U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) have been the champions of the bill for the past two years in the Senate.

“Scams set up specifically to go after American seniors and their hard-earned money are particularly despicable,” Deutch said when he introduced the bill in April 2019. “For the millions of American seniors, many of whom live on fixed incomes, they should not have to worry about losing everything in their bank accounts because of extremely deceptive scams. They should be able to depend on their government and law enforcement to protect their financial security from fraud and scams.”

Deutch was able to add the bill into U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester’s (D-DE) “Stop Senior Scams Act,” which passed the House on a voice vote recently. Deutch was a co-sponsor of the bill. U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) is working on the legislation in the Senate.

“Scams targeting seniors are becoming increasingly sophisticated and deceptive,” Deutch said on Tuesday. “To protect our seniors, many of whom live on fixed incomes and could lose a life’s worth of savings, we need a stronger response in tracking, targeting and warning against new scams. I hope the Senate will move quickly on this bill that could help seniors protect their assets.”

“Seniors have worked their entire lives with the promise of a safe and secure retirement,” Buchanan said. “Scams targeting the elderly are growing at a disturbing rate and threaten more than retirement accounts – they imperil the independence and trust of an already vulnerable community.”

The Seniors Fraud Prevention Act now is headed to the Senate.

“We must ensure all Americans have safety and dignity in their senior years, especially as we confront the coronavirus pandemic. New schemes designed to defraud seniors appear almost daily. These aren’t simply a nuisance—these scams can wipe out an entire life savings. Passing this bipartisan legislation is a critical step to combat fraud targeting seniors,” Klobuchar said.

If you would like to learn more about scams involving seniors, and other elder care issues, please visit our previous posts.

Reference: Florida Daily (Nov. 18, 2020) “Florida Congressmen Get Seniors Fraud Prevention Act Through the House”

 

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Elder Financial Abuse on the Rise during the Pandemic

The same isolation that is keeping seniors safe during the pandemic is also making them easier targets for scammers, reports WKYC in a news report “Northeast Ohio family warns of elder financial exploitation.” While this report concerns a family in Ohio, seniors and families across the country are seeing elder financial abuse on the rise during the pandemic.

Two brothers enjoyed spending their time together throughout their lives. However, for the last three years, one of them, Michael Pekar, has been trying to undo a neighbor’s theft of his brother Ronnie’s estate. A few months before Ronnie died from cancer, a neighbor got involved with his finances, gained Power of Attorney and began stealing Ronnie’s life savings.

The money, more than a million dollars, had been saved for the sons by their mother. Pekar went to see an attorney, who helped uncover a sum of about $1.6 million that had been transferred from Ronnie into other accounts. A civil complaint was filed against the woman and $700,000 was eventually recovered, but nearly $1 million will never be recovered.

How can you prevent this from happening to your loved ones, especially those who are isolated during the COVID-19 pandemic?

An elderly person who is isolated is vulnerable. Long stretches of time without family contact make them eager for human connection. If someone new suddenly inserts themselves into your loved one’s life, consider it a red flag. Are new people taking over tasks of bill paying, or driving them to a bank, lawyer, or financial professional’s office? It might start out as a genuine offer of help but may not end that way.

The person committing the elder financial abuse does not have to be a stranger. In most cases, family members, like nieces, nephews or other relatives, prey on the isolated elderly person. The red flag is a sudden interest that was never there before.

Changes to legal or financial documents are a warning sign, especially if those documents have gone missing. Unexpected trips to attorneys you don’t know or switching financial advisors without discussing changes with children are another sign that something is happening. So are changes to email addresses and phone numbers. If your elderly aunt who calls every Thursday at 3 pm stops calling, or you can’t reach her, someone may be controlling her communications.

According to the CDC, about one in ten adults over age 60 are abused, neglected, or financially exploited.

With elder financial abuse on the rise during the pandemic, be sure to check in more frequently on elderly family members. Increased isolation can lead them to rely on others, making them vulnerable. I you would like to learn more about elder abuse, please visit our previous posts. 

Reference: WKYC (Nov. 19, 2020) “Northeast Ohio family warns of elder financial exploitation.”