Financial exploitation of seniors is a growing problem as 1 in 20 seniors have reported financial exploitation. According to estimates, seniors lose over $36 billion each year to financial abuse and scams.
What are the signs of financial abuse?
Financial abuse can range from signing documents they don’t understand (or are not allowed to read) at their partner’s behest, to not being allowed to work or have control over their own money. Some signs to watch for:
- Changes in bank accounts: Look for unusual withdrawals or if someone new has been added to the account.
- Unpaid bills: When you see bills piling up, that could be a sign the money is going elsewhere.
- A new gatekeeper: If the caregiver denies you access to the senior, something may be amiss.
- Change in the person: If their demeanor has changed, and he or she is acting afraid or looking unkempt, something is wrong.
- Financial confusion: If they’re confused about recent transactions, you may want to investigate further.
Financial abuse prevention
Prevent the financial abuse of seniors by involving a professional to make sure your loved one gets the best advice. This is a great way to start. Other suggestions include:
- Talk finances: Have family, an attorney or a financial planner talk finances with your senior.
- Stranger danger: Don’t talk with strangers about finances.
- Checks and credit cards are better than cash: Leaving a paper trail can be helpful later.
- Get a second opinion. Talk to a professional if someone wants to get a power of attorney, or is asking for financial information.
What to do if you suspect elder financial abuse
Contact an attorney experienced in financial elder abuse cases immediately. The California Constitution’s Victim’s Bill of Rights says that anyone who suffers losses as a result of criminal activity has the right to get restitution from the persons convicted.