There is an alarming epidemic of elder financial abuse. This kind of abuse involves taking advantage of an older person for financial gain. Older adults are losing billions each year as a result of scams, fraud and exploitation.
It’s even more disturbing that nearly half of that money is lost because of tactics that are technically legal, but dishonest in nature. Experts predict the problem will only get worse with a large number of Baby Boomers going into retirement. Here’s what you can do about it.
How Seniors Can Protect Themselves
There are a number of ways for seniors to be better protected from elder financial abuse. Use these strategies to identify financial abuse and avoid it because not all financial abusers take money from their victims using the same methods.
- Remain socially active
Isolation is one factor that can lead to the financial vulnerability of a senior since being cut off from the outside world will make it harder for others to spot warning signs.
- Avoid joint bank accounts
Some seniors might open a joint bank account in order to make transactions or withdrawals on their behalf easier for a family member and better manage their finances. However, a shared bank account can also be an easy way for fraud and violence to take place.
- Invoke a power of attorney
Financial abuse risk increases after a person develops a reduced ability to make independent financial decisions. Invoking an attorney’s power can be a constructive way to prepare one’s property and resources for the future. Seniors may recommend seeking legal advice to assist in this process.
How to Identify Elder Financial Abuse
It can be difficult to identify elder financial abuse, particularly if you don’t know what you’re looking for. It is also challenging to identify signs of abuse if the abuser is someone you know and trust. Here are some signs and what you can do with financial elder abuse.
- Money Missing from Accounts
Is there a shortage of funds or large amounts of money missing from the savings or bank accounts? If so, it’s crucial for you to find out where the money went.
- Unusual Use of Credit Cards
If an elder unexpectedly uses their credit cards more often or if cash advances are being taken out, there may be financial abuse or financial hardship.
- Unpaid Bills, Collection Letters, Lack of Food in House
If a person who is financially responsible does not seem to pay bills or buy food or other necessities, it is time to investigate. Signs of abuse, disease, or dementia can be mismanaging money or neglecting self-care.
If you see any of the signs listed here, it is important to talk to old friends or loved ones. Try to determine what is happening, specifically with your financial situation, such as a new person “helping” you with money management, or a relative using cards or credit without your permission. Then, report elder financial abuse to your financial institution and enlist the help of your banker to stop it and keep it from repeating. Call the city or state’s Adult Protective Services for support. If you have any questions or concerns about elder financial abuse, call RMLEFCU at 303-458-6660.