Sadly, elder abuse has been on the rise for many years. Older, vulnerable adults can be exploited in many ways. The senior population can be manipulated by strangers, professionals who deal with their assets and even trusted family members and friends.
It’s difficult to find a solution to financial elder abuse because many exploited people are ashamed that they were taken advantage of and don’t report the crimes. Unfortunately, this type of abuse affects not only the finances of the victim but also their mental and physical well-being.
Types of Financial Elder Abuse
Financial elder abuse is often committed by strangers, involving phone calls, such as the grandparent scam. The senior is called and told their grandchild is in jail and needs money immediately. Many seniors fall prey to this scam because they want to help their grandchild.
Charity scams are also commonly done by phone. The scammer calls and asks for money for a good cause. Natural disasters are often leveraged in this type of scam.
Home repair con artists are another way vulnerable adults succumb to financial abuse. The con artists promise to provide a service and ask for payment upfront. Then they never return to provide the service.
Financial elder abuse can also be committed by people posing as professionals. These predators often use lending schemes to pressure elders into taking inappropriate loans or reverse mortgages that harm them. Email scams concerning false bank accounts are used to siphon money from vulnerable adults. Investment schemes are also used to manipulate seniors into believing they will get unrealistic returns on certain investments.
Identity theft is another way so-called professionals take advantage of senior adults. They use the identity of the senior to fraudulently open credit card accounts.
Unfortunately, financial elder abuse is also commonly committed by family members and close friends. These scams can take many forms. Some caretakers will begin small by keeping the change from running errands. Often the elderly adult’s financial agent, or attorney-in-fact, will abuse the power given to them to control the senior’s finances and steal their money. Family or close friends also commit financial elder abuse when they use ATM cards or steal checks to gain access to money from the vulnerable adult. There are many variations of elder financial abuse.
Protecting Our Elders
One way to help stop financial elder abuse is to let our elderly loved ones know there is no reason to be ashamed about reporting possible financial abuse. These thieves and scammers are clever and know how to play the game to take advantage of people of all ages.
Another way is to stay on top of accounts and work with law enforcement and banking officials to keep track of accounts and report anything that looks suspicious. It is important for family members and friends to have checks and balances when taking control of someone else’s money and assets. Have more than one person who looks at account information and share control.
The Senior Safe Act
Recently, the Senior Safe Act was signed into law. This is a step by the federal government to help protect elders from financial abuse. Under the Act, banks, credit unions, investment advisers, broker-dealers, insurance companies, and insurance agencies are protected from being sued for reporting suspected fraud, but their employees must be trained to understand the warning signs. It empowers financial service representatives to identify warning signs and help keep vulnerable adults from becoming victims of financial abuse.
There is no easy solution, but awareness is the first step toward reducing financial elder abuse. To learn more about detecting, reporting, and preventing financial elder abuse, visit the website of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
If you have any questions about financial elder abuse or would like additional information, please feel free to contact us. Our law firm is dedicated to informing you of issues affecting seniors who may be experiencing declining health. We help you and your loved ones prepare for potential long-term medical expenses and the need to transition to in-home care, assisted living care, or nursing facility care. For legal advice, please contact our Wichita office at 316-830-5603.