How To Recognize Elder Financial Fraud
Retirement should be a time to relax and enjoy our remaining years. Unfortunately, many senior citizens golden years are stolen from them when they become the victims of elder financial fraud. According to an article by Nick Leiber for Bloomberg, criminals steal approximately $37 billion dollars a year from America’s elderly. According to Leiber, approximately 5 million older Americans suffer financial exploitation every year. Sadly, according to a 2016 report by the U.S. Centers for disease Control and Prevention, elderly people who have suffered financial exploitation are 3 times more likely to die than those who haven’t been abused.
Types of elder financial fraud
Elder financial fraud can take many forms. Sometimes the perpetrator promises an elderly person that they have won some sort of prize but need to provide money for taxes or fees in order to collect it. Others scare the elderly person into thinking they owe money to a taxing authority and need to pay immediately. Some are family members seeking to take money from an elderly relative. Caregivers and others can charge for non-existent services or attempt to take over the elder person’s finances. Others involve soliciting money for non-existent charities. Some scams involve predatory lending and investment scams.
Often the perpetrator scares the elderly person into not disclosing the abuse. According to the article by Leiber for Bloomberg, almost 60 percent of all cases involve someone who is a family member. Other trusted persons can be the perpetrators of financial abuse such as caretakers, neighbors, friends, attorneys and bank employees.
How to recognize when an elderly person is being taken advantage of
It is important to recognize the signs, which can be subtle. Some of the signs of elder financial abuse are:
Elderly persons who are isolated. For example, homebound elderly.
Elderly with distant or no relatives.
Wills being changed.
Money being withdrawn from banks.
Financial documents left in plain sight around the house.
Execution of powers of attorney.
It’s critically important to be able to identify when elder abuse is occurring as soon as possible. If a senior is acting unusually withdrawn, depressed or anxious, abuse could be responsible for the change. Other warning signs include a sudden change in behavior, sleeplessness, financial difficulties and physical signs of trauma.
What to do if you think a friend or family member is the victim of elder financial abuse
If a friend or family member is exhibiting signs of elder abuse, it’s imperative that you seek assistance at once. You should report your suspicions to The Department of Social Services. You can also report your suspicions to the police.
A law firm experienced in elder financial abuse can also provide assistance in protecting and preserving your friend or loved one’s assets, stopping the financial exploitation and potentially bringing the perpetrators to justice.