California Law requires all bank employees to report all suspected cases of elder financial abuse. The California Bankers Association has compiled a list of tips to help consumers be more vigilant in keeping seniors safe.

Elder financial abuse is a somewhat unique crime in that, oftentimes, it is a member of the family, close friend or caregiver who ends up perpetrating the crime, making it that much more difficult to detect.

I would encourage you to look out for these common elder financial abuse schemes:

– Misappropriation of income or assets – Fraudster obtains access to an elder’s Social Security checks, pension payments, checking or savings account, credit card or ATM, or withholds portions of checks cashed for an elder.

– Charging excessive rent or fees for service – Perpetrator charges an elder an excessive rent or unreasonable fees for basic care services such as transportation, food, or medicine.

– Obtaining money or property by undue influence, misrepresentation, or fraud – Perpetrator coerces an elder into signing over investments, real estate or other assets through the use of manipulation, intimidation or threats.

– Pigeon drop – Perpetrator claims to have found a sum of money and offers to split it with an elder provided the elder first withdraws an amount equal to his or her share as a sign of good faith.

– Fake accident ploy – Perpetrator convinces an elder that the elder’s child has been seriously injured or is in jail and needs money for medical treatment or bail.

– Telemarketing and mail fraud – Perpetrator persuades an elder to buy a valueless or nonexistent product, donate to a bogus charity or invest in a fictitious enterprise.

– Fake prizes – Perpetrator tells an elder that he or she has won a nonexistent prize and either asks the elder to send a check to pay the taxes on this nonexistent prize or obtains the elder’s credit card or checking account number to pay for shipping and handling charges for the prize.

– Unsolicited work – Perpetrator arrives unexpectedly at an elder’s residence and offers to perform work for a reasonable fee; after starting the work, the perpetrator insists that the elder pay more than originally agreed before the work will be completed.