Elder Abuse in the Digital Age: Online Scams and Exploitation

Elder abuse does not always mean physical abuse. One of the fastest-growing forms of elder abuse is in the form of online scams and exploitation. According to the National Council on Aging, older Americans who are victims of financial abuse lose more than $36 billion per year.

An elder abuse attorney with the Geiger Legal Group, LLC, can help victims and concerned family members seek justice for financial exploitation. Our experienced and compassionate legal team can help identify perpetrators, gather evidence, and demand fair compensation. If you suspect elder abuse involving fraud, scams, or identity theft, contact the Geiger Legal Group, LLC, for a free consultation. 

Understanding Elder Abuse in the Digital Context

You may wonder, what is elder abuse? There are different types of elder abuse, including physical, sexual, and emotional abuse and neglect. Over the years, there has been a significant increase in the use of digital scams to perpetuate financial abuse against older adults. 

Seniors are especially vulnerable to schemes via email, text, social media, or websites. While an older adult would likely refuse to allow a stranger at the front door to enter their home, they might lack the same safety precautions online. 

Common Online Scams Targeting the Elderly

From phishing emails to fraudulent schemes, perpetrators often prey on the trusting nature of older individuals. Frequent scams include:

  • Fake Charity Appeals – Scammers exploit older adults’ generosity by sending emails or making calls pretending to represent a charity. 
  • Grandparent Scam – Perpetrators send emails claiming to be a distressed grandchild, asking for urgent financial assistance. Sometimes, the “grandchild” is overseas and desperately needs money to return to the United States. 
  • Government Agency Impersonation – Scammers pose as government officials, sending emails claiming issues with Social Security or pension benefits that require personal information or payment. Another common scam involves phony Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agents who threaten legal action or arrest unless the victim pays the alleged taxes.
  • Fake Tech Representatives – Fraudsters may call and allege that the victim’s computer has a virus, so they need remote access or payment to fix it.
  • Online Dating Schemes – Con artists create fake online profiles on dating sites, establish romantic relationships with older people, and then fabricate emergencies or financial troubles to request money.
  • Phony Security Software – Official-looking emails or pop-ups trick older adults into downloading fake security software, which may contain malware. The scammer then charges for the fraudulent software or gains unauthorized access to sensitive information.

Can Victims Take Legal Action?

Victims of elder financial abuse have options for taking legal action against those who have exploited them for financial gain. However, digital scammers are adept at covering their tracks. That’s why you need the help of an elder abuse attorney with the Geiger Legal Group, LLC, with the resources and knowledge to pursue justice. We can do the following:

  • Freeze accounts, credit cards, and assets to avoid further theft or fraud. A new state law protecting seniors from financial abuse allows authorized agents to delay suspicious transactions for 15 days.
  • Collect and preserve any evidence related to financial abuse. This may include text messages, voicemails, emails, letters, bank statements, or other documents demonstrating fraudulent or exploitative activities.
  • Consult a digital forensic specialist to examine the victim’s phone or computer to identify fraud or wrongdoing. 
  • File a report with local law enforcement and regulatory agencies, such as the state Office of the Attorney General and Adult Protective Services
  • File a personal injury lawsuit against the perpetrator and those who enabled or supported their wrongdoing. A skilled elder abuse lawyer can pursue total and fair compensation from those responsible. 

How to Identify and Prevent Online Elder Abuse

There are warning signs to identify potential financial abuse of an older spouse, parent, or grandparent:

  • Unexplained or unauthorized withdrawals from their bank account or excessive spending on credit cards
  • Missing financial statements, cash, or valuables 
  • Changes to their will or estate plan 
  • New relationships where your loved one consistently provides financial aid to the other person
  • Past-due bills or eviction notices

To prevent digital scams, the American Bar Association (ABA) offers these tips to older adults:

  • Use Spam Blockers – Install spam blockers on your digital devices and phone. You should also have antivirus and firewalls on these devices for safer web browsing.
  • Beware Bitcoin – Legitimate organizations typically do not request payments using prepaid gift cards or cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. 
  • Verify Identity – Scrutinize emails from someone claiming to be a government agency or charity. Do not download or click links in a suspicious email. Independently verify the organization’s known and correct contact number for phone calls or voice messages. Do not return calls made by a suspicious number.
  • Avoid Urgency – Bad actors always convey a sense of urgency or pressure because they want victims to act fast before they have time to investigate. 

The Georgia Consumer Protection Guide for Older Adults offers suggestions for preventing fraud and exploitation and making wise choices about money. Finally, listen to your instincts. If something or someone sounds too good to be true, it is probably spam or potential fraud. 

Geiger Legal’s Approach to Elder Abuse Cases

An elder abuse lawyer with Geiger Legal Group, LLC, helps older individuals receive the support they need to navigate the legal system. We use our experience and skills to seek justice and compensation for:

  • Financial losses
  • Loss of reputation
  • Pain and suffering
  • Property loss or damage

Contact Our Georgia Elder Abuse Lawyers to Learn More

If you or a loved one has fallen victim to online elder abuse, seek legal help immediately. The Geiger Legal Group, LLC, is a family-run law firm focusing on helping those harmed by someone’s negligence or wrongdoing. We offer personalized client service and skilled legal representation for:

  • Nursing home abuse and neglect
  • Car accidents
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Truck accidents 
  • Personal injury 

An experienced elder abuse lawyer can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case. Call the Geiger Legal Group, LLC, today for a free consultation.