Alzheimer's and fraud: When a fraudster strikes

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For those who discovered elder financial abuse and exploitation after the relative's death, it can be hard to find a lawyer when you're financially strapped. This is where the bar association comes in handy, they can put you in touch with the right lawyer who can help you. I have lots to say on how to protect yourself financially and prevent what's happening to others what happened to you. You don't have to stand helplessly by thinking there's nothing you can do as long as you make an effort to deal with it as soon as absolutely possible. It's not fair to our elders or their families for fraudsters to come in and clean out bank accounts and assets behind the family's backs. This is just what happened in my particular situation where my dad having Alzheimer's was defrauded big time. Sadly this happens all too often, more than people may realize but there's so much you can do to stop it. Though guardianship is a very good tool, all too often guardianship is often misused and abused. This is called abusive guardianship when predatory abusive guardians target the wealthy and gain guardianship and grab all of their money andassets through the legal system, this is more common than you may realize. Anyone with money can file for guardianship but not everyone is cut out for it. Wards are abused when guardians become overwhelmed. Guardians can also take advantage of those in their care but also so can a POA. Such was the case with my dad who developed Alzheimer's and should've had a guardian but didn't. Regardless of the reasons why you may not be able to be in the life of your aging relative, they become sitting duck for vultures when they lack trustworthy people to handle their affairs when they no longer can. My dad never really planned for the future and it's often poor planning that contributes to leaving our elders sitting duck for vultures. If you carry cash/checkbook and leave your wallet laying around, it'll be too tempting for someone to find it and take it advantage of you. Believe it or not, this actually happens every single day right under peoples' noses and it's never reported because people often don't recognize the signs in order to spot and confront it. It's never a good idea to carry cash or even a checkbook, these items can be found and stolen or misused by someone crooked enough to want to take advantage of the fact they found your wallet full of cash or even your checkbook laying on the table. I went digital years ago and never looked back. What's best about going digital is your bank has records of all of your transactions. When dealing with someone with Alzheimer's though, catching a thief will depend on whether or not someone who recognizes elder financial abuse is around to spot it. In the case of my dad who always carried cash, he was a sitting duck for some fraudster to come along and take advantage of him unless he would've later on taking advantage of leaving all of his money in the bank. This is how banks can spot fraud, and this is how they get to know their customers and their banking patterns. One big red flag is when someone appears in your life and takes over your financial matters and at some point the bills aren't getting paid when you would've otherwise paid them when you were able. Banks are trained to spot and deal with warning signs of potential fraud against elders. Sometimes it may be too late when someone may have sent off a check to a fraudster and it was already cashed by the fraudster. Other times fraud can be caught if caught in time, checks can be traced and stopped. If someone wanting POA takes an elder who happens to have mental decline to the bank, remember the elder may not be able to make an informed decision. If the person is already confused, you really don't want to confuse them even more.

It's up to you to prevent fraud

Going digital is very beneficial because it makes it that much harder for anyone to get anything from you should you become incapacitated in any way whatsoever. Keeping all of your money in the bank is far safer than carrying it in your wallet, especially if you were to lose your wallet or if it is stolen. Another perk is if someone finds your wallet who has no business with it, it'll be much harder for them to get anything from you if there's nothing in it. Carrying debit cards with very little money on them is actually beneficial if you only carry what you absolutely need and nothing more. It's a good idea to get into the practice of planning ahead as we've all heard so much about because it's your future. Finding a good strategy early on is much better than trying to find one when it's too late. Call it early preparation, it's always good to be prepared ahead of time by protecting yourself early on. When you find a good strategy, stick to it so that it becomes automatic because it will become a habit that becomes part of you. That way, if you ever develop dementia or Alzheimer's, you already have developed a specific pattern

9 Comments I am dealing with the fallout from the equifax data beach

Not only has the hack stolen name, address, phone number, social security numbers....but also, bank account, credit card account, and retail online account. AND..if you are online with digital access...equifax also had your passwords!

Now...freezing all the credit bureau files, changing all you user names and passwords...both bank and online accounts.

Wow..what a hassle.

Plus, now remember...the smart ID Theif will wait a year before using that info..because you will have let your guard down! So..I am in the process of getting every bank card and credit card re-issued with new numbers too

Yeah, the data breach happens to anyone regardless of online access...but the online access makes you more exposed.

143 million people effected!
Personally, I have all my money buried out in the backyard. Shoot! Maybe I shouldn't have said that...
Katie squared- and wtf on waiting 6 -7 weeks to tell public about breach. I don't think equifax has your password chain, but I could be wrong about this. Yes, all need a freeze & reissued.

This will be a huge class action......
Wow, just had a freeze put on my accounts before the breech.  My bank asked me when I placed the freeze.
Wondering, if sending for new cards and passwords won't actually help the crooks instead?
Keeping a low profile?

Rainmom, did you also tell the dog?
In the past two years we've had our credit card - Visa - frozen and reissued with new account three times due to "security breeches". It's an enormous pain in the butt as almost all are bills are auto pay to the card as well as having a number of places I shop regularly bill to the card. This includes stuff that auto ships as well as our mail order pharmacy.
So everything comes to a grinding halt until we get all the accounts signed on to the newly issued credit card account.

I try to look of the bright side - that it's better than identity thief or someone going in a shopping spree using our credit card.
I agree, there are vulnerabilities everywhere. Paper checks...check washing. Credit Cards...crooks do not even need your card. They find a number that "hits" and create a card with a random name. Happened to me with Chase. My sons debit card has been replaced twice because local bank was hacked. Mom and Stepdads bank account was hacked. They had online bill pay. Amounts were clearing their account disguised as legitimate bills. Mom's Social Security number was snagged by a third party billing service for local ambulance company while she was alive. RainMom, I can not bury my cash in bask yard! My Labs will dig it up and eat it!!!

So Digital, I beg to differ. You are no more safe being digital. I do bank online but I watch my account like a hawk. I know we are all vulnerable regardless how we choose to conduct our business.

Oh one more...Wells Fargo Ghost Accounts.
It isn't you money you need to is your future. buried in the back yard doesn't help when suddenly creditors are hauling you into court for non-payment on HUGE loans you never took out....or credit cards you never had.

Lizzy, I agree with you about going digital. Too much information is shared, some stored in so-called "cloud" storage, and that's been breached as well. And too many people rely on digital storage. It's not as safe as a lot of people believe, and will probably find out now with the Equifax fiasco.

I've just been calling, added fraud alerts, called my credit card company and called Equifax. The only way I can check to determine if our credit data was included in the breach is to enter the last 6 digits of our SS numbers, ONLINE only.

So the breach was online, and now the only way I can find out if our data was compromised is to go online to the site of the company that allowed this to happen? That's like saying the only way I can find out if an alligator is hungry is to go stick my hand in its mouth and see if it chomps.

And for anyone who does call Equifax, don't expect much. The poor fellow who tried to help me clearly was one of the 2000 hired to "help" people through this mess and knew very little and really couldn't offer any help.

BTW, I'm still in the process of negotiating the private duty contract and am adding a clause:

"(PD company) agrees that it will not use any so-called "cloud storage" company for Client's personal, medical, or any other information. It further agrees to contact Client immediately by phone, followed by written or e-mailed notice, if any breach occurs of Client's personal data collected by Company." I might wordsmith it a little, but from now on if I negotiate any contracts with providers, I'm including a credit breach clause.

I might try to add a compensation clause, but that'll probably kill the deal, which wouldn't bother me if I had other options. And unfortunately with private duty care, there aren't that many options - lots of companies, sure, but they literally hold all the cares.

But the "ghost accounts" - that's really scary. Wells Fargo "manages" stock holdings for widows and orphan accounts. I hope they don't try anything underhanded with those. I might write to the companies and complain that I don't think WF should be managing W & O accounts given the egregious behavior demonstrated by employees in the "ghost accounting" scandal.

Thanks for sharing this information.
Another idea, call the banks that have your credit cards and tell them to lower the credit limit. It's not like I am going to use a credit card to pay in full on a new car, so why need such a high credit limit. I want to make sure whomever wants to joy ride on the information highway with my credit cards can only go a few miles :)

I also have my credit frozen at all 3 credit bureaus. This was recommended by Clark Howard many years ago, back when he had a regular TV show.

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