Category: Elder Care
Tags: Tax Scams, Retirement, Asset Protection, Long Term Care, reverse mortgage

3 Financial Scams Targeting the Elderly

Posted on: July 7th, 2015
elder financial abuseSenior citizens have unique concerns and challenges when structuring their assets. The elderly are concerned with maintaining sufficient funds for retirement, qualifying for public benefit programs like Medicaid and Medicare, and paying for inflating healthcare costs without compromising assets intended for future generations. June was Elder Abuse Awareness Month. Unfortunately, another challenge seniors face is being the target of elder financial abuse. Aside from an unscrupulous family member mismanaging a senior’s assets, third party organizations use underhanded tactics to take advantage of seniors. Our North Carolina elder law attorneys review a few items below and ways to address them:
  1. Medicare and Medicaid Scams. Organizations pretending to be representatives from Medicaid, Medicare, or other insurance providers try to appear as authentic as possible. Seniors might reveal confidential personal information, and scammers use these details in order to make fake claims and collect the proceeds themselves. Some of the fraudulent organizations go so far as to set up fake clinics—which might be more convincing to an elderly person than a suspicious phone scam. In the past 10 years, the North Carolina Attorney General’s office pursued claims of Medicaid fraud and recovered more than $360 million.
  2. Investment Tricks. Growing Long-Term Care Insurance premiums compounded with rising healthcare costs might encourage an elderly person to seek investment strategies that could grow their assets in a short time frame. Although their interests are valid, the investment companies or individuals an elderly person retains might not be as legitimate. 
  3. Reverse Mortgage Sham. Many seniors elect to use a reverse mortgage in an effort to tap into the equity of their home during their retirement. With many seniors on a fixed income, a reverse mortgage could provide extra coverage from an asset the individual already owns. Some reverse mortgage shams will offer the elderly homeowner the title to another property, often a seemingly more valuable one, in exchange for the title to their home or for a fee or tax incentives. Reverse mortgage brokers must comply with federal laws, as well as provisions set forth in the North Carolina Reverse Mortgage Act. Check with an elder care attorney to learn if the service provider is in compliance.

To help prevent an elderly relative from being the victim of elder financial abuse, be aware of the many scams that target seniors and share the information with family. Discuss asset preservation with an elder law attorney to learn if Medicaid Trusts and other asset protection tools should be implemented. 
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