In the news in May, two stories unrelated but very definitely connected in the message they send: – a West Palm Beach caretaker is accused of grand theft of $100,000 or more and exploitation of the elderly. The caregiver is accused of making cash, check and debit withdrawals from her patient’s bank account. Money was spent at clothing and grocery stores and money was also spent on gasoline. The case stems from a bank official alerting police about unusual transactions from the man’s account. Deposits of Social Security and health insurance income were being depleted within 14 days of arriving. He was charged $1000 for a cell phone he doesn’t own reports showed. The man can’t testify at the trial because of his declining mental condition.
Safeguard Our Seniors is the fraud protection legislation on its third time before the bill is signed into law in the state of Florida. The legislation is being championed by Florida Chief financial Officer Alex Sink who says he has met hundreds of victims throughout Florida, heard their heartbreaking stories and fought for better protections and harsher penalties against senior scammers.
Amongst other things Safeguard Our Seniors will strengthen senior investor fraud laws by making some unscrupulous annuities practices third degree felonies. The bill will extend the ‘free look’ period for the purchase of an annuity by a senior – from 14 days to 21 days.
Its worth just noting here that all Home Health Companies have to check prospective staff very carefully and it is a requirement by statute that caregivers have a criminal background screening check. References from Home Care Agencies are taken and checked and a comprehensive history of previous employment for a 5 year period is recorded on application forms. All licenses (RN, CNA etc) are verified online. These are just some of the benefits of going through an home care organization for help.
It is up to the individual to carry out their own checks if they employ a caregiver privately and sometimes there isn’t the knowledge or the resources to do this. It has always amazed me how trusting older people are about letting strangers into their home. There is the temptation to cut corners with costs especially in this economy but not always the best move in the long run.
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