Elder Abuse – Do You See Signs?

September 20, 2018

Filed under: Community,Elder Abuse,Financial — Alexis @ 1:45 PM

Do you have a family member or a neighbor who is elderly, or perhaps younger and intellectually disabled? These folks are prime targets for elder abuse.  Some things to keep your eyes and ears open for include:

  1. A previously uninvolved family member becomes the primary caregiver.
  2. A previously unfamiliar “friend” becomes the primary caregiver.
  3. Lots of repeat visits by the same repairmen – are they asking this person to write checks for unnecessary work?
  4. Payments in the checkbook that can’t be easily explained.
  5. Lots of ATM or bank withdrawals for cash, if that wasn’t previously this person’s habit.
  6. The caregiver won’t let others visit or call.
  7. Acting scared.
  8. Sudden bruises or injuries.
  9. Something just doesn’t seem right with the living situation. Trust your gut.

These are not all the signs of elder abuse.  If you suspect abuse of an elder or someone who is intellectually disabled, you can try any of the following: call your town senior center; call South Shore Elder Services or Old Colony Elderly Services (depending on your service area – see map here); call the police; or call the patient’s doctor.

If you see something, say something.

For help preventing yourself or a loved one from ever becoming a victim of elder abuse, please call us.

Last Week Tonight’s John Oliver Has Something to Say About Guardianships

September 10, 2018

Filed under: Caregiver Issues,Elder Abuse,Estate Planning — Alexis @ 1:14 PM

Have you seen his piece on guardianship?  It’s scary, they are extreme though not rare examples that he uses, and being John Oliver, the bit has its funny moments too.

As one of the spotlights, he tells the story of a couple who were put under guardianship, even though they perhaps were still competent (they certainly appear to be in the video), and then their guardian financially abused her power and basically ignored the couple’s everyday needs.  The couple ended up trapped in an assisted living and couldn’t get out, even though they had the mental and financial ability to leave, because a court had stripped them of the right to make their own decisions and manage their own money.  How did that happen?  He doesn’t give the back story, but in all likelihood, either they weren’t presenting well or they were difficult residents, so whomever was having a tough time with them is probably who brought the guardianship case to court, and a judge, assuming that all was in order, approved it.

Bottom line?  Don’t leave yourself in a position of ever needing a guardian!  In Massachusetts, we have two types of court-appointed fiduciaries:  a “guardian” handles your health care decisions, and a “conservator” manages your assets and finances.  (In the video, John Oliver refers to both of these as “guardians.”)  Why would a court appoint a guardian and/or conservator?  The vast majority of the time, it is because someone has become incompetent (typically due to dementia) AND never signed a durable power of attorney and health care proxy.

In a durable power of attorney, you name someone who you trust to handle your finances for you, should you reach a point where you are unable to do so.   (Technically, the POA springs to life immediately, but most agents understand not to use it until you need them to.)  In a health care proxy, you name someone who you trust to manage your health care if you reach a point where you can’t make or communicate your own health care decisions.  (The HCP springs to life only once a doctor certifies that you have reached that point.)

In both cases, the key is to name someone who you trust, and to name alternates as well.  If you don’t name alternates, and if your primary agent can’t serve when you need them to, then you are back in John Oliver’s video, where, should you become incompetent, or in some cases, if you are competent but a troublemaker, someone will go to court to have a guardian and conservator named over you.

If you would like help creating your durable power of attorney and health care proxy, please give us a call.

National Grid Warns Customers to Guard Themselves & Sensitive Account Information

January 12, 2015

Filed under: Elder Abuse,Financial — Alexis @ 10:13 AM

Apparently scammers are getting better at their craft – received this from my local police department:

During this holiday season National Grid and local police departments received an increasing number of calls from customers being targeted by billing scam artists and impersonators trying to gain access to account information and entry to National Grid customers’ homes. The bill scams mirror reports received by utility companies throughout the country where the scammers are demanding immediate payment for electricity and natural gas bill balances and threatening immediate service shutoff if payments are not received within an hour or two. If the customer has made a payment, the caller will say that the payment has not been received and an immediate payment must be made. For the most part the scammers are demanding that the customer secure a pre-paid debit card and provide the account number to the scammer who then redeems the card.
National Grid does contact customers with past due balances by phone to offer payment options. Direct payment is an option but direct payment is never demanded as a prerequisite for continued service. If customers wish, they can arrange for a payment by check, credit card or debit card if they speak directly to a customer service representative. Payment can also be made by credit card or debit card without a representative’s assistance. National Grid does not accept pre-paid debit cards for payment and would never ask a customer to acquire one of these cards to make a bill payment.
The callers have shown to be adept at extracting account information from unsuspecting customers and they use sophisticated telephone technology to convince customers they are actually calling from National Grid.
Ask Questions/Demand Proper ID
In addition to the on-going fraudulent bill collection calls, there have been recurring reports of individuals going door-to-door, identifying themselves as employees of National Grid and demanding to see the customer’s electricity or natural gas bills. In other instances, people claiming to be a utility company employee have been able to gain entry to a home by telling the customer they must inspect their meter, which is usually located in the customer’s basement. When the customer accompanies the impersonator into the basement, an accomplice enters the home and removes items of value without the customer knowing it.

National Grid Billing Scam

May 22, 2014

Filed under: Elder Abuse,Financial — Alexis @ 10:48 AM

I recently received an email from Norwell Police Chief Ted Ross warning South Shore residents about a utility billing scam. Fraudulent callers are targeting National Grid customers throughout New England. The scammers are demanding payment of alleged electric bill balances (that customers may not even owe) and are threatening to shut off their electricity immediately unless given checking account or credit card information.

What should you do if this happens to you? Ask the caller for the last five digits of your National Grid account number. Inevitably, they won’t have it and you can hang up and rest assured the caller is a scammer. DO NOT give out your banking or credit card information. If you want to verify your account billing status, the telephone number for the National Grid Customer Contact Center is 1-800-322-3223.

Criminals can easily obtain false names for caller identification purposes and attempt to pose as legitimate businesses over the phone. So remember, the best practice is to NEVER give out your banking, credit card, or personal information (such as your date of birth or Social Security number) over the telephone unless YOU initiated the call and are certain of the merchant’s identity. Additional resources on scams and identity theft from the Attorney General’s office can be found here.

If It Sounds Too Good to be True…

July 9, 2009

Filed under: Elder Abuse — Tags: , — Alexis @ 9:50 PM

Right in our own backyard, another financial planner has been charged with scamming seniors. His pitch was that his investments would allegedly earn guaranteed 12% returns – not bad – and not likely. Further, he allegedly implied that these investments were safe; Bill Galvin’s office says they were patently risky. Regardless of how these charges turn out, the lessons remain  – be very wary of whom you invest your money with, research it well before writing a check, and most importantly, if it sounds too good to be true, ….