NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — Our oldest citizens can sometimes be our most vulnerable. Now, a local effort is being made to make sure schemers can’t take advantage of seniors.
An estimated $3 billion is stolen every year from seniors nationwide. Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn III says protecting the elderly is one of his top priorities.
“Unfortunately, a majority of these crimes of financial fraud are committed by relatives of the victims, which makes these crimes even more intolerable and offensive,” he said Wednesday. “Not only are they stealing, but there’s a betrayal of trust.”
Quinn is launching an Elder Abuse Prevention and Investigation Unit, which will not only handle financial cases, but also physical abuse and neglect.
The district attorney has assigned Massachusetts state troopers to assist in the investigations.
“It became quite evident that these crimes are far too common and often go unreported,” Quinn added. “These are crimes of opportunity. Criminals single out seniors because they find them to be the most vulnerable victims.”
According to Quinn, some signs of financial abuse include:
- Numerous bank withdrawals
- Increased or unusual credit card activity
- Changes in a will or power of attorney
- Missing financial documents
Quinn said there are ways to protect yourself. It’s important to stay social, check caregiver references, shred all bills and other documents, and review bank and credit card statements every month.
It’s also crucial to be on the lookout for scams. Don’t give out personal information over the phone, always hang up on solicitor calls, and don’t click on unsolicited emails.
The Rhode Island Attorney General’s office launched its Elder Abuse Unit back in 2005.