What is elder financial abuse?
Many of us are probably familiar or have heard the term financial exploitation, which is when an individual uses someone else's money or resources for their own personal benefit. This type of abuse can happen to people of all ages. However, elders that are usually 60 years or older tend to be very common targets as they are usually seen as weak minded, easy people to fool and defenseless. Thus, elder financial abuse is on the rise. According to the National Council on Aging, being a victim of elderly financial abuse can cost as much as 36.5 billion a year.
Unfortunately, it can also be a difficult crime to detect as the perpetrators can fall on a range of people such as children, spouses, family members, scammers or even nursing home assistance. It can also be even more difficult to detect when the elderly victim suffers from mental impairments such as dementia. Therefore, it is important to know the signs of elderly financial abuse to know how to prevent it, it may not only benefit you, but maybe even someone you know.
How to Identify Elder Financial Exploitation?
Though it can be a difficult task to identify elder financial exploitations, here are a few signs to look out for that may help.
- Isolation- One common sign to look for is a change in the elderly's mood such as sadness or depression. This may tend to make them want to isolate themselves more from their own family members. Another sign of this can be seen when it is also hard to get a reach of them whether it be by phone or in person.
- Suspicious Financial Account Activity- If you notice new or unusual authorized users for bank accounts or credit cards, this can be a red flag. This can ultimately result in many negative impacts. For example, large withdrawals, debt, fund transfers and missing money.
- Change in Spending Habits- a big sign to look out for is a change in spending habits. This can be noticed if a person is not paying bills, not buying food or necessities and not shopping as much as they regularly do. These are very big indicators that it may be time to investigate where money is going.
- Missing or Unusual Possessions- This sign might be one of the easiest to spot, if you notice significantly important or valuable items missing, a good thing to do is ask what might have happened to them. Alternatively, if you notice many new valuable items, it may also be good to ask where they came from and why. It is better to be on the safe side.
What You Can Do to Prevent Elder Financial Exploitation
- If you suspect that an elderly is in immediate danger such as physical abuse or neglect, it is recommended to call law enforcement and get them involved. Working with them not only helps prevent criminal activity but it also ups your chances of holding the abuser accountable for their crimes.
- If the victim is not in immediate danger, contact Adult Protective Services. The agency will then conduct their own investigation into the matter as well as coordinate with other services such as law enforcement and social services. They will also offer assistance when needed.
- Another way to prevent financial exploitation is by reaching out to financial institutions like banks and credit bureaus. They can then conduct their own investigation which can help clarify any discrepancies.They may also help identify if any financial exploitation is occurring, in many cases they are the ones to first notice any exploitation.
- When it comes to elder financial exploitation, it often involves many legal matters which can best be handled by an attorney who specializes in elder law. For example, an attorney may suggest tips to prevent financial abuse from occurring such as setting up a revocable or irrevocable trust. This will help protect your assets and keep ownership over them.
If you or someone you know needs help preventing financial abuse, contact the Law Office of Inna Fershteyn, and we can guide and help you determine the best course of action.