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My mother's caregiver, who I have relied on and trusted for over three years and counting (employed by an agency), really did dumb yesterday. She used my mother's credit card to make a relatively small purchase on her own personal amazon account. I discovered this immediately because of all of the alerts I have on my mother's credit card (this was a "card not present" transaction).
I followed up with Amazon, and they were able to confirm who the purchaser was. I very grudgingly offered the caregiver's name, hoping that it wasn't her. The customer service person said yes, it is this person. I was so deeply disappointed and felt very much betrayed and taken advantage of. As someone who I've put a lot of trust in, and have had tremendous faith in her judgement and reliability over the years--and what could well be years to come -- even though the amount was pretty trivial ($28 and change for goodness sakes), I'm struggling.
Amazon removed the credit card info from her account, and she won't be able to use the card for any further purchases. I also disputed the amount with the credit card company, so all of that is good to go.
The thing is, I don't want to get rid of her, and I feel really conflicted about that. She has been the best caregiver in the past 5 plus years -- all of the others have been flakey and unable to use good judgement (I live 3 plus hours away, work full time, and need someone who can take responsibility and initiative when necessary). This person was someone who would demonstrate good common sense, keep in good touch with me, run interference in any number of difficult situations. When my mother fell last March, she handled the paramedics, the ER, and the cleanup at the house. I was very appreciative and gave her a monetary "thank you" since I know her agency wouldn't pay her more than her hourly rate. Now that it's holiday season, I was (maybe still am???) ready to write her a check for her annual Christmas bonus, which I'm pretty certain other clients don't do.
Sigh...a few months ago, she was driving my mother through her retirement community, and she got a speeding ticket (I was notified since my mother's a resident). The community "police" are hypervigilent and my reaction was to think "hey, it happens" (she was going maybe 40 mph in a 35 zone), and I paid for the ticket so she wouldn't be out the $50. I just thought "don't let it happen again" and moved on.
I'm just so deeply disappointed, and wonder if I'm being a total chump. Searching online, I've found posts that use the terms "elder abuse" and I wonder if I should immediately terminate her, and then embark on the horrendous task of finding another replacement. The agency would of course send someone else, or more than one person if necessary, but the upheaval to my mother (and me, honestly) is just overwhelming to think about.
And I don't know if, or how, I should approach this with her! Amazon couldn't tell me if the caregiver would receive her order or not, but she will be able to see plain as day that the credit card info is permanently gone from her account, so she'll know what's up in that way. I wonder if maybe it would be beneficial to just let her twist in the wind--not say a thing to her, but she'll know she's on notice.
It was such a stupid thing to do. She knows I watch my mother's accounts like a hawk, or she should know. Would it be awful, or stupid of me, if I continued to keep her as my mother's caregiver? I know that it's the nature of the situation (my being long distance, my mother having dementia, caregivers earning a crappy wage for difficult work) that things may go missing, they might take advantage in small ways if they can get away with it, and I've made my peace with that. If she throws a few groceries for herself into the cart when she takes my mother shopping, I'm not going to sweat it. If a tchotchke or two or three disappear, so be it -- that's the way it goes, is my attitude.
But this...???

Cancel the credit card, get your mother a new card, and do not give the information to any caregiver ever again. If she tries it again, it will say "CARD DECLINED". Get all of the financial records out of your mother's house. There is no reason for anyone except the financial POA to have access to money. Period.

I once had a house guest - a Nigerian woman who was on scholarship at a local college - steal a piece of fine jewelry from me that was in my vanity in my bathroom. The feeling sucks. People steal. I was naive. I made it easy. Never again.
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gdaughter Dec 3, 2019
Very obvious and good plan, though doesn't resolve having a potentially untrustworthy caregiver with potential speeding issues taking care of mom. Surprised no one (including me!) suggested doing this sooner!
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Just be up front and to the point with the care giver: I saw that you made what appears to be a personal purchase on Amazon with my mother's credit card the other day. I cancelled the order but wanted to speak to you about it before drawing any conclusions. Period. See what she has to say; if it sounds like BS, it's probably BS and she's trying to get away with using your mother's CC for her own benefit. On the other hand, she would have to be pretty dumb to think she'd get away with such a thing, realistically. That's why you are giving her a chance to explain her actions before making a decision to fire her or keep her on. Don't be emotional when speaking to her; just be matter of fact and go from there.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on ME.
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looloo Nov 30, 2019
Yep. More feedback that I need to say something. I can’t argue with your logic. Thanks!
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What did she buy?

My first thought would be - seeing as she's not stupid, she knows the routine, and she knows this is going to be spotted immediately - that she put the card on an Amazon account to buy something on your mother's behalf.

For heaven's sake, stop pussyfooting around behind her back and *ask* her about it. "Sue, I was just checking through mother's November account and saw this transaction on the [date] - what happened there please?" It's not even a rude question!

If it turns out that she is buying a little gift from your mother to herself, though, that is a problem. She mustn't do that. It must be returned.

The speeding fine was incurred while she was at work on your mother's business. I'd grumble about it and ask her to be more careful but I think you were right to pay it.
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Reply to Countrymouse
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No one has mentioned a potential problem: If you fire any caretaker they still the key to the house. Demanding the key on the spot won't work b/c if the caretaker will steal they will also have a duplicate key made for future theft. Change the locks after any caretaker is fired.
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cherokeegrrl54 Dec 3, 2019
Good advice...hadn’t thought of that
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Did you talk to the caregiver? Is there any chance Mum asked her to make a purchase on her behalf?

I would pick up the phone and tell her you got a fraudulent use of card alert and canceled the transaction. Let her know amazon has told you whose account the transaction was made under. Then ask for an explanation.

It may be time for Mum to lose the credit card.
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freqflyer Nov 30, 2019
I was thinking the same thing.... that maybe your Mom asked the caregiver to order something. Or it was an honest mistake, thus in the rush to caregive [which isn't easy] the caregiver mistakenly used the wrong credit card. I remember using my boss' credit card to purchase something in an office supply store for myself, just by habit. I reimbursed the company.

Let's gather all the facts before blaming a caregiver that you have had for 3 years, and whom you and your Mother likes

Usually if a person is likely to "steal" something they would have started during the first year of their employment, not 3 years later.
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I don’t believe it was a mistake, you have to enter all the information and billing address to the Amazon account. There’s not 1 single reason to add that card to her account. HOWEVER,
I completely agree that finding another caregiver that does a good job is very difficult especially given your distance.
I would tell her you got a fraud alert, you reported it and subsequently realized you may have gotten her in trouble for identity theft (that should scare her enough). She won’t be receiving a Xmas bonus for her decision and in turn you won’t report her to her agency because you prefer she not get fired. You certainly cannot allow your moms card to be breached but in case it was a mistake (which you know it isn’t) you may want to just handle it between the 2 of you, so she’s not fired, wreck her chances of future hire, but ultimately save yourself from the painstaking task of finding another good caregiver because yes good ones are hard to find.
I don’t agree that a Tchotchke missing here and there is ok though. If you want to give her a gift you will, nobody should TAKE anything from an elder or their home... sorry that’s stealing and I’m surprised you’re ok with that.
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Reply to PowerOf3
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There are a few things that bother me about your post. First is the credit card, second is her taking money for a bonus and speeding ticket which would be against her employment contract with the agency for gifting and would open you up to co-employment issues. It is not your place to confront her but the agency.

We had this aide, P. I couldnt stand her but others loved her and she was always bringing gifts. The reason I didnt like her was her stealing. It was to the point that I had an inventory going. I bought groceries one day, went up after her shift and about half of what I bought she took. I was livid and went at it with the agency and lost the battle. We actually had a meeting where she did the crocodile tears because I was mean to her, admitted to stealing and she kept her job as the victim and Robin Hood for the elderly, smh. The final straw with her came when a fill in aide came and one of the gifts was a green antique vase. The vase was taken from a different clients home. The situation was really nasty from there.

The moral of the story is if she is doing it to your LO, she may do it to others also. The agency needs to be made aware.
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gdaughter Dec 1, 2019
Exactly. Stop the cycle of insanity, spare others.
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Other end of the spectrum here; You mentioned "elder abuse;" If she is accused of this, by you; First, she will be terminated by the agency. 2. She will be charged, by law enforcement, with elder abuse. 3. She will be arrested, placed in handcuffs, and she will be put in a cell, in jail. 4. A bond will be set, by a judge. She can not get out of jail, until that bond is in place. An attorney will have to be got, by her. She is responsible for all attorney fees, which is through the roof. Once all this is done, she WILL NEVER be able to be a caregiver again. Almost impossible to get a job, doing anything. All for a 28$ charge. Why can you not just talk with her, find out the "why" of this? Make it crystal clear this will not be tolerated. I was falsely accused of a theft, went through all this; It wound up costing me over FIFTEEN THOUSAND DOLLARS, - the client herself had sold the item, didn't want daughter to know. Although not guilty, no agency will hire me, because I have an inquiry on background report. Law enforcement does not cover the outcome of this, in their final report I am "blackballed" forever, because my client didn't confess, till it was done. Said it was her stuff. I'm out all that money, defending myself, because she wanted 50$ in her pocketbook. REMORSE? NO. Not even an apology. Think of the outcome, before getting to the start of accusing anyone, of anything.
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XenaJada Dec 2, 2019
I DETEST thievery, but I absolutely would not want to put someone through all that you went through over a $28 theft.

I too have been accused multiple times by an aunt (slight dementia and lifelong paranoia). She CONSTANTLY misplaces her things and then accuses the most recent person who visited her of stealing the item. And when she finds the "stolen item" (she always does), there is NEVER an acknowledgement or apology. Ever.

I have helped her so many times, taking my entire day to get her to the doctor and grocery store, only to have her turn on me like a pitt bull. Her most favorite item to lose and accuse is a strand of pearls.

She is currently in Assisted Living. I have watched her anytime we are leaving her room to go somewhere. This look of paranoia suddenly comes over her face and she starts "grabbing and hiding" things of value. I watched her grab her credit card and hide it in the covers on her unmade bed and tuck her watch into a stack of dirty clothes, etc. I immediately stopped her and made her put those items in her purse. Later when we got into the car, she started screaming that "she could not find her credit card and that she must have dropped it in the hallway and surely someone will take it and go shopping!" A few minutes later she found it in the bottom of her purse! She constantly loses her CC or leaves it on the counter at the grocery store.

I'm so sorry you went through your ordeal. I do hope your accuser received a good cursing out or a nasty letter.
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Be direct and ask her why she did this. The answer may guide you towards a more clearer action.
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I would have a serious discussion with her. I have a real problem with people who steal from others. I had two cleaning ladies steal from me in the past. Expensive china and other things. I was 100% certain they took my stuff and put it in their big cart of housekeeping supplies. I confronted both of them, and fired them on the spot. I did not call the police, but was very disappointed in them and glad I let them go. I would confront her and do let her know how you feel. If it was me I would let her go and try to find someone else. She broke your trust in her, shame on her. I would not let her get away with this. She will not learn anything from her actions and might not stop at $28. You will not be doing her a favor if you just let it go. Stealing is stealing big or small.
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