Financial abuse of the elderly is increasing. Only one in 44 cases of financial abuse are reported. Family members or close friends account for 90% of abusers, which makes the victims reluctant to pursue legal action. Read further to understand ways in which elderly people are exploited and the common scams that are used by professional con artists.
Exploitation by Family Members
Many elderly people have a “Power of Attorney,” which gives financial authority to the person of their choosing. A family member could steal this money for his or her own use or could take advantage of the finances by being the joint owner of a bank account with an elder relative. ATM cards and checks may be used to withdraw money, and cash and valuable items such as jewelry can be stolen.
Exploitation by Home Health Providers
In-home care professionals may charge for services never performed. They may keep change from store purchases and pay their own personal bills with the elder patient’s funds. The worker could even falsify time records and spend work hours to run personal errands.
Scams by Professionals
Seniors are often targeted by professional con artists because of their financial security, trusting nature, home accessibility, and potential memory problems. Older people control about 70% of the nation’s wealth. Professionals know who to target and have become very skilled with their pitch.
Home repair scams. Traveling con men may approach the home, stating they are in the area for a short time and can repair something inexpensively. Also, beware of people saying they are from a utility company. One person may ask for help outside while another teammate goes inside and steals the elderly person’s possessions.
Lottery scams. These will claim that the elderly person has already won, and now, they just need to share their financial information to cover the cost of the associated taxes.
Charity scams. Individuals will ask for donations for a good cause and then pocket the money for themselves.
Investment scams. Unrealistic returns being promised is a warning sign. Anyone who claims to be a financial planner or dealer should be properly licensed.
Signs of Financial Abuse
- Large bank withdrawals or unusual activity
- Missing possessions
- Unpaid bills
- Unusual new friends
- New names on bank accounts
- Sudden changes in a will and the beneficiaries
- Debt collector calls and/or letters
- Someone refusing to get the medical care needed for the elderly victim
What to do if you suspect Elder Financial Abuse
If you or a loved one has been the victim of elder financial abuse, there are several ways to report the situation. You could call the local law enforcement and file a report, and/or you could call the local Adult Protective Services.
You should seek legal counsel if you want the wrong-doer to be reprimanded and/or recover what assets were compromised. Attorney Ethan Vessels is an experienced attorney in Marietta, Ohio, and he is ready to discuss your case. Please call 740-374-5346 or fill out our online contact form.