Consumer Scams Article


Directives and Ways to Avoid Financial Exploitation

Financial Exploitation

 

Financial exploitation can take on many different forms.  It is defined in the Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.  § 46-451(A)(4)) as being “the illegal or improper use of an incapacitated or vulnerable adult or his resources for another’s profit or advantage.”  Samples of abuse can include:

 

·         Forgeries

·         stolen cash or assets

·         abuse of joint accounts

·         abuse of power of attorney 

 

Financial exploitation and trickery can arise in different ways including through e-mail, phone, or letter scams. 

 

Signs of Financial Exploitation

 

Identifying financial exploitation and/or scams can be difficult. Some noticeable signs of financial exploitation include:

 

·         Showing a difference between income and assets

·         unexplained or sudden inability to pay bills

·         inaccurate or lack of knowledge about one’s finances

·         fear or anxiety when discussing finances

·         unusual transfer of assets to others. 

 

But, there are also less noticeable signs of financial exploitation, which can be:

 

·         an individual’s change in appearance and grooming

·         confusion

·         change in mood

·         change in eye contact with bank personal

·         cringing or withdrawing

 

Since the signs of financial exploitation can be confused as the signs of many different physical, mental and/or emotional changes in a vulnerable adults life, it can be very difficult to identify.

 

Methods Used to Communicate Scams

 

It is important to pay close attention to information received and the manner in which the information is communicated.  If an email, phone call, letter, prize or lottery notification has any of the following elements, it is probably a scam, seek additional help to determine whether it is actually a scam. 

 

·         If the organization has no website and cannot be located in an online search-engine or other online resource it is possibly a scam. 

·         Be cautious if an e-mail communication or requestor asks for bank account information, credit card numbers, driver's license numbers, passport numbers, your mother's maiden name or other personal information.  Often companies do not request the personal and confidential information from their clients in this manner. Rather than responding to the e-mail, check with your local bank to ask whether the e-mail is valid.

·         Be cautious if the e-mail, mail or phone caller advises that you have won a prize - but you did not enter any competition run by the prize promoters.  E-mail claims indicating that you won a lottery are scams because a legal lottery never notifies it’s winners by e-mail.   

 

Another clue that the communication received is a possible scam is when the return e-mail address is a free email account. While not always the case, most legitimate companies can afford the roughly $100 per year that it costs to acquire and maintain a domain and related company email account.    

Resources for Victims of Financial Exploitation

If you or someone you know of is a victim of financial exploitation, you can contact any of the following services:

·         Adult Protective Services (APS) Hotline at (877) SOS-ADULT (767-2385) TDD: (877) 815-8390. (A.R.S. §§ 46-451 et seq.). 

·         If you suspect that the abuse is occurring in a licensed long-term care facility, such as a nursing home, contact your local long-term care Ombudsman. To locate the Ombudsman, call (800) 872-2879. Your report will be confidential, and you can remain anonymous. (A.R.S. §§ 46-452.01, 452.02). 

·         You can also order the Senior Citizen’s Protection Manual, produced by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. For a free copy of this guide, call (602) 542-2123 or (866) 358-6661 (outside Maricopa County) or visit the Attorney General's Office on-line.  (Go to Publications and Seniors). 

·         You may also phone your local police department if you feel that you or someone you know may be a victim of financial exploitation.

Potential Obstacles When Reporting the Financial Exploitation of another person

If you report possible elder abuse against another person, try to be specific in your description.  Also, try to understand the position of the person you are attempting to help.  The alleged victim may refuse to admit that he or she is being taken advantage of because of embarrassment, mental capacity, or fear of retaliation.  The best thing that one can do to stop scammers is to report incidences of exploitation and abuses. 

Ways to Protect Oneself From Financial Exploitation

There are ways a person can be proactive and protect him or herself from financial exploitation.  The following list has some examples:

·         Make sure that all financial and legal affairs are in order. If they aren’t, enlist professional help to get them in order, with the assistance of a trusted friend or relative if necessary.  

·         Keep in touch with family and friends and avoid becoming isolated; which increases your vulnerability to elder abuse.

·         If you are unhappy with the care you’re receiving, whether it’s in your own home or in a care facility, speak up.

·         Tell someone you trust and ask that person to report abuse, neglect, or substandard care to your state’s elder abuse helpline or long term care ombudsman, or make the call yourself.

Can Money Resulting From Financial Exploitation Be Regained

Generally, it is extremely difficult to get one’s money back after a person has been scammed.  However, federal and state laws prohibit unfair or deceptive trade acts or practices. If you think you've been cheated, immediately let the appropriate government agencies know. The more agencies you notify, the more likely someone will take notice of your complaint and act on it. 

·      To find the consumer protection office in your state, county or city, visit the federal consumer action website (of the Federal Citizen Information Center) at http://consumeraction.gov/ (click on "Where to File a Complaint" and "State Offices"). 

 

·      Another way to get relief is to bring a lawsuit against the person in small claims court and/or file charges against the individual.

By taking the actions above we can prevent financial exploitation from becoming simply a matter of fact and protect one of our more valuable assets, the elderly members of our society.

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/money/consumer-protection/preventing-financial-elder-abuse/overview/

http://www.azag.gov/seniors/FinancialExploitationoftheElderly.pdf

http://www.consumerfraudreporting.org/identify.php

http://www.azag.gov/seniors/elder_abuse.html

http://www.lawforseniors.org/articles_info.cfm?articleid=125&mc=8&sc=85



Comments:

QUESTIONS

  • I RECENTLY WAS HAVING A SECURITY SYSTEM INSTALLED WHICH NEVER WAS FINISHED. AFTER NEARLY 3 WEEKS AND SEVERAL ATTEMPTS I MADE EITHER BY PHONE OR INTERNET TO INQUIRE ABOUT THE SITUATION NO ONE CAME TO FINISH INSTALLING THE SYSTEM. I BECAME FRUSTRATED AND DECIDED TO CANCEL MY INVOLVEMENT WITH THIS COMPANY. I WAS TOLD BY A REPRESENTATIVE I WOULD BE REFUNDED. I HAVE YET TO RECEIVE SAID REFUND. WHAT ARE MY RECOURSES TO RECOOP MY MONEY?
  • Signed a contract with vacation club & they breached it in my opinion.I wanted $ back right away but have gotten runaround.I have been trying to end it since the first week, & now it's 2 1/2 months & no luck. I have documented everything; do I have any rights in this scam?
  • My Divorce Attorney has lost over 500 pages of my families financial records.I have been closing accounts, fear of foul play. Should he be held accountable - what can I do, as he chose to ignore it.
  • How many days can a contract be cancelled?
  • After filing a "notice of claim" at the state attorney general's office, how much time does the state's attorney have to respond ?
  • I signed up for online Lpn to Rn program online for 13,000 dollars with Achieve Test Prep and took one class that cost 300 dollars. After 1 month Achieve Test Prep said there program no longer supports AZ so i asked for my money back since i didn't cancel the contract. They said they can only send back 10,000 and charged me 3,000 in administrative fees. This is fraud how can i sue and get this in front of a jury and what are my options?
  • My wife and I are retired seniors. She brought home a flyer from the mailbox advertising a Handyman. Our evaporative cooler stopped working. This man came over and said he could fix it for $210.59. The next day he came back and after looking around for a while he said they don't make these kind of control boxes anymore. He came over that night with a friend of his, John, and they both decided they would have to look for the parts. The next day they both came back with a computer. Jim sat at the computer and started rattling off numbers to John who was using a calculator. After much running in and out to the cooler it was decided that the job would cost $1055.29. My wife and I looked at each other and decided we couldn't live without a cooler in Arizona. I asked Jim how much of a down payment he would need and he said all except $100.00 to buy the parts. I wrote out the check to Jim's Handyman Service. The next morning he called and said three of them had to go to Phoenix to get the parts but he would have to stop by my house first because they would not take a check made out to his business. I thought it strange that someone would run a business using personal checks but wrote out one to Jim Petty which my wife brought out to the gate and exchanged it for the business check. Therefore I never received a receipt for the $745.29 check. That afternoon they called me on the way back from Phoenix and told me that they would be at my house at 8:30 that night to install the parts. I reluctantly agreed and thought it very strange that they wanted to install the parts in the dark. At 9:45 pm the phone rang and they were at our front gate. I told them we were going to bed to come back in the morning. At 7:30 the next morning they were installing the parts into the cooler which included a new thermostat that was previously mentioned to cost between $300 and $400 alone. They finished the job by 9:30, I paid Jim the last $100 and they left. We had no instructions for the thermostat and only two scribbled over work orders mentioning $210.00,$118.00 and 109.00 in various spots on the work orders. We never received a contract, warranty, nothing! After the cooler started to cool the house down we found out it would not shut off or on automatically once it reached the ambient temperature. I called Lowe's and a man tried to help us because they sold that kind of thermostat but eventually said he couldn't help us because he would have to see how the control box was wired and that it was probably wired wrong. I called Jim and asked for an itemized invoice. He agreed but I never heard from him again. He also has not responded to my e mail messages. On one of the scribbled work orders was written a 10 year warranty on parts and labor and 5 years on the computer (if you can read it.) I only signed one of the work orders. This person has "Jesus is Lord" printed under his name on his business card. If you ask me that's all part of the scam. He and his friend John have no intention, that I can, see of ever contacting me. If I could, I would attach a picture of the 'kit' he installed. It all comes in one box and all the 'so called' parts including the thermostat cost $149.99!
  • Hi, It's been nearly two months since I opened a new money market account at a local bank. How do I get the bank to pay me the interest rate they promised? Thanks
  • a man is demanding I pay him for assisting me in selling a house I sold "by owner" I he is not licensed. He claims we had an oral agreement that I would pay him rather then hiring a realtor He is suing me for $5000
  • I think I am being scammed. I received a letter from a previous business firm with a demand to pay. There is no account number, no return address and no signature on the abnormal letter head. How can I tell?

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