Seniors: How to spot scammers or family theft

Posted at 7:13 PM, Oct 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-26 10:13:34-04

Criminals are stepping up their efforts to target seniors through phone and email scams.

However, one area that gets overlooked, and often not reported, is theft from seniors by trusted friends or a family member.

According to the Center for Elder Law & Justice in Buffalo, it has helped many senior victims who had no idea that someone had charged-up thousands of dollars in credit card debt in the seniors' name. 

Others had no idea that mortgages were taken out using the seniors' personal information.

The best way to spot these types of fraud are by checking your credit report on a regular basis - something many seniors fail to do.

Information about getting a free credit report can be found here: https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action

Not only can seniors be out lots of money, but not reporting the theft to police can hurt a senior when it comes to applying for Medicaid to pay for a nursing home. 

Medicaid will view the undocumented loss of money (theft) as a gift or transfer.

It is important to know that Medicaid "looks back" five (5) years on a seniors' financial situation when they apply.

The Center for Elder Law & Justice admitted it can be very hard for a senior to file a police complaint about a someone they know but it is necessary to protect the seniors' interest. 

Some of the lost money can be reimbursed through the NYS Office of Victims Services - if a police report is filed.

7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly spoke with Sarah Duval and Kathy Kanaley from the Center for Elder Law & Justice to learn more about the importance of seniors checking their credit reports.

For those who need help, or feel they are a victim, you can contact either the Center for Elder Law & Justice https://elderjusticeny.org/ or Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Buffalo http://www.consumercreditbuffalo.org/.

The Council on Elder Abuse also has information that can be helpful: http://www.councilonelderabuse.org/



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