June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD), and Better Business Bureau of Southern Arizona is marking the occasion by calling attention to the many ways the elderly are victimized in southern Arizona, and throughout the world.
BBB receives hundreds of phone calls each year from senior citizens who have been targeted or victimized by scammers. These can range from common scams such as bogus travel deals or lottery schemes to outright financial fraud.
“Southern Arizona is an attractive destination for retirees and according to 2011 Census Data, almost 16 percent of Pima County’s population is 65 or older,” said Kim States, BBB President. “One of the more common types of abuse that BBB often hears about is financial fraud.”
Financial elder abuse occurs when seniors’ banking or credit accounts are exploited by scammers who take advantage of the vulnerabilities sometimes associated with age, explains States.
What makes the crime particularly frightening is that in most cases the abuse is carried out by someone the senior knows, such as a family member, caregiver or friend.
“Many victims do not realize they have been taken advantage of,” said States. “Or if they do know, they may not want to tell anyone due to embarrassment or fear of losing what independence they may have.”
Unfortunately financial elder abuse can be difficult to identify. If often takes a caring family member, friend or caregiver to recognize that fraud has occurred. These are some signs to look for:
- Belongings or property is missing
- Unusual bank account activity
- Complaints from seniors that they can suddenly not afford normal purchases
- Suspicious stories about people that normally wouldn’t be involved in personal affairs now being involved
- Unnecessary purchases (often big-ticket items)
- Sudden changes to Power of Attorney or will
- Sudden interest in an investment or business opportunity
- Claims they have won a prize, lottery or vacation
- Numerous unpaid bills or bounced checks
If you or someone you know might be a victim of Elder Abuse contact your local law enforcement agency or the Arizona Attorney General’s Taskforce Against Senior Abuse at (602) 542-2124 or SeniorAbuse@azag.gov.