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Guarding Against Caregiver Theft and Fraud
In these tough economic times, there has been a significant rise in reports of caregiver theft and fraud. There was a recent case of Murray Janoff, a 96 year old man from Boca Raton, who noticed that one of his rings was missing. The ring was valued at $900 and had sentimental value to him as he was awarded this ring for his work with the United States Harness Writers Association. His caregiver was later arrested after it was discovered that she stole the ring and ultimately sold it for $160.
Mr. Janoff's case is not rare. Caregiver theft occurs when a person who is responsible for taking care of your loved one steals money or property from the person that they are supposed to be caring for. Caregiver fraud occurs when the caregiver takes personal information and uses it for personal financial gain. Often people do not suspect their caregivers because they trust the caregiver.
Below are some tips to look for when dealing with caregivers:
It is important that you watch for signs that there may be a problem with your caregiver. For example, you should be alert for caregivers who try to isolate a senior from their friends and family members. You should also be on alert if the caregiver begins to inquire about the senior's will, real estate owned, and investments. You should be skeptical if a caregiver requests to be given power of attorney or appointed as guardian over a senior. The caregiver's job is to take care of the senior and they should not try to influence or control a senior citizen.
Ways that caregiver theft and fraud occur:
Caregivers have virtually unlimited access to the person under their care. This can pose a significant problem if the senior does not diligently protect their financial information and resources. Some of the most common crimes occur when a caregiver steals, uses bank information without permission, or sells or transfers real or personal property without the senior's permission.
What can you do to protect your family?
- Check references and conduct a background check on all caregivers hired.
- Tell family members to be on alert when visiting a senior's home, condo, hospital, or room.
- Report any incidents of elder abuse to the Elder Abuse Hotline at 1-800-96-ABUSE (1-800-962-2873).
- Call the police if you suspect that there is money or jewelry missing.
- Keep all important financial documents under lock and key in your home.
- Store valuable items and documents in a bank safe deposit box.
Where to turn to for help?
|Legal Aid Society's Elder Law Project||561-655-8944|
|Senior Legal Helpline||1-888-895-7873 (Statewide service)|
|Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program||1-888-831-0404|
The Legal Aid Society's Elder Law Project provides legal assistance to individuals over 60 years of age who have been the victims of abuse and exploitation by relatives, merchants or others. In addition, the project handles Social Security, Medicare and housing matters and provides special assistance to grandparents raising grandchildren. For more information on the Legal Aid Society's Elder Law Project, call (561) 655-8944.
IMPORTANT: The information on this Website is not intended as legal advice or representation. No attorney-client relationship is created between the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County, Inc. and any person obtaining information from this website. Public benefits and other laws change frequently. We strive to keep this website up to date but cannot provide a guarantee that this information is accurate as of the time you are reading it.