The world we live in is constantly evolving around us. With society and technology shifting every day, it is important to be aware of potential scams that can put you or your loved ones at risk. You have probably heard of the IRS and Social Security scams, but did you know that scam artists are now targeting Real Estate? These thieves have found ways to manipulate seniors, costing them more than just their checking account balance.
Unfortunately, these scams are not only limited to strangers but can also be done by those close to the victim. This can include friends, family members, and even ill-intentioned children. Financial exploitation and fraud is considered a form of elder abuse and is estimated to cost seniors $36.5 billion dollars a year in America alone. Two-thirds of financial abuse is inflicted by adult children or spouses. It is a shocking and saddening fact, but should be kept in mind when financial fraud is suspected.
There are many ways that seniors can be financially exploited, but real estate fraud is not as well known. These types of schemes can involve high-risk situations including property management, reverse mortgages, and foreclosure-rescue offers. Although these potential opportunities sound helpful, maybe even ideal – be wary!
If there is concern regarding fraud from family members, one approach often taken is to convince the senior citizen to relinquish Power of Attorney. This trades a person’s ability to make decisions about their own assets and relinquishes control over to another. Powers of Attorney are incredibly important later in life, but be wise in who you entrust. The person with Power of Attorney will have final say so in many areas of your life, primarily medical and financial.
There have been many instances in which a family member has held Power of Attorney and then used it to steal benefits from seniors and even sell their homes out-from-under them. This could involve a reverse mortgage or even a full purchase of their house causing them to be forced from their home entirely. According to the Federal Trade Commission, 1.8% of seniors who are victims of fraud end up losing their home or another main asset.
These statistics are horrifying and hard to swallow, but they are facts. Unfortunately, we live in a world that has many self-serving people who put their needs and desires above others. This is not true for most of course, but a few bad apples give enough need for precaution. If you, or a loved one, suspects they may be a victim of a real estate scam or another form of financial fraud contact your local authorities immediately.
If you are not sure if you are a victim you can learn more about warning signs from the National Council of Aging website or read up on different known scams on The Senior List. These are incredible tools available free for your use.
Enlist the help of a professional. As a Senior Real Estate Specialist and a Certified Senior Housing Professional, I am here to consult with you about any real estate questions you may have, and guide you through what can be a very emotionally challenging time.
Lee McCue: Direct: (303) 859-0198 Email: Lee@McTeamProperties.com, www.McTeamProperties.com