They’re called “the golden years” – but it only takes one con artist to dull them.

They're called "the golden years" – but it only takes one con artist to dull them.

According to an AARP survey, one in five Americans age 65 and older – about 7.3 million people – have been victimized by fraud. For example, an elderly veteran who was approached by a stranger. The stranger told the veteran that he was an employee of the Veterans Administration and offered to help obtain home care for the veteran for a one-time fee payable in cash.  Another scam, a young woman, conveniently, meets an older man, she convinces him to change his will, give her power of attorney; or become a caretaker. Consequently, the isolation process starts and family members are shut off.

However, there are some precautions family members can take to protect and prevent your loved one.

A power of attorney allows an individual to make legal and financial decisions for another person. This is wonderful tool, but it is, and continues to be abused. On many occasions, seniors have been found victimized, assaulted, in a state of fear, or starving to death, in their homes, as a family member or unrelated caretaker “sucks up” the assets.

For home care, you should always choose a reputable home care organization for an aging family member. These organizations are insured and bonded, and will often do a background checks on their employees. Additionally, family members should visit regularly and monitor the health and well-being of their older relatives.

If a service is required, find local professionals through “word of mouth” or other reputable means. Usually, scammers will pose as a professional, with urgent information about damages to personal property,that must be remedied if cash is paid up front.

The best rule of thumb when dealing with possible scams is – if it is too good to be true, it is.

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