Seniors, elder abuse and fraud

r12I was recently asked to write an article for a senior publication that had something to do with elder abuse.  Tell me a story she said.  Make it something that senior’s can relate to, where they can see themselves in the examples.  Tell me about the situations that you guys are responding to (without risking confidentiality disclosures of course).

I’ve mentioned before that elder abuse is not a crime in the sense that a police officer can charge someone with “elder abuse”. It is the name given to a series of behaviours that are detrimental to an elderly person’s life, safety, security, lifestyle, and way of life and so on. When a charge is laid in an elder abuse case, it is a charge of physical assault, neglect, domestic assault, sexual assault or in some cases, financial abuse or fraud. This can make things challenging because there are many cases that are not cut and dried so to speak.

Jane Doe talked to the police due to issues and concerns with elder abuse. She was having problems with her adult grandchild OGO_23-06-2011_ROP_06_oldsd-2_fct500x308x74_t460who was breaking in, threatening, taking things and intimidating her. It was very stressful for Jane because she wanted to help her granddaughter (she always had before and in fact had helped her the whole time she was growing up), but it wasn’t turning out very well this time and Jane was starting to get very sick from all the stress.

The onus for pressing charges in an elder abuse case typically falls to the victim.  Family violence dynamics make that very difficult – that is why we have protocol and legislation about things like domestic violence and child abuse.

img_20080429_120156John Doe was in that exact same spot. He was very happy to stay in his house in the little village he had lived in for years. He couldn’t get around much anymore and had a hard time remembering to pay his bills so he opened a joint bank account with one of his children. The problem is that this child had a hard time paying his bills too. By the time others were notified, John was on the verge of being homeless, no money, no bills had been paid for months on end and no food (the child was stopping on the way home from work every day and taking that too).

In most of the cases we see, elements of elder abuse exist but they’re not enough to lay charges. Sometimes the issue is the fact that the victim will hesitate, get confused, get overwhelmed or simply not want to tell every single piece of the story because of how embarrassing it is.

Door to door

Another John Doe lives in a small home in the city.  That particular city had a real problem with people going from home to home selling heating systems, energy contracts and various other related services.  Not surprisingly, the sales people were very aggressive and trained to pressure people into signing contracts and purchasing things whether they needed it or not.  This John Doe did not need a new heating and ductwork system.  His house was in great shape and everything was in working order.  Unfortunately, his only child lived in another province and not necessarily always available to help answer questions as needed.  John signed the contract, worth thousands of dollars, even though he didn’t need this product.  A lot of work was done to try to cancel that contract.

Fraud is the #1 crime against seniors.  Seniors are not necessarily more susceptible to fraud, but they’re targeted far more often which of course results in higher incidences of seniors being victims of fraud.  The reason seniors are often targeted by con artists include;

  • Seniors often live alone
  • Seniors might have more savings
  • Seniors are generally more trusting than younger people.

F101_SignsFraud

If you have signed something you can still opt out of the contract within a certain number of days.  Call the phone number on the contract or call Seniors Busters at 1-888-495-8501.

 

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Categories: Elder Abuse, Victimization

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