Preventing Financial Abuse of the Elderly
You notice your father doesn’t seem to have as much money as he should. He keeps talking about a new friend he made not long ago and how the friend is always visiting him. You’re becoming suspicious that maybe the “new friend” is stealing money from your father but you don’t know how to prove it. However, there are signs to check out if you think there is financial fraud happening.
Why the elderly?
The elderly are perfect targets for financial abuse because of many reasons. One reason is that the person is too embarrassed to go to the authorities once the abuse has happened. The senior may be unfamiliar with how the technology works and aren’t sure how to manage their accounts. They may not even be aware that money is missing.
Another reason is that their source of income may come the same time each month making a predictable pattern. A predictor will study the potential victim and know when they have a significant amount of money. The senior could be lonely and/or isolated or could have physical or mental disabilities. Or, they could be taken advantage of by relatives who have a drug or alcohol problem and aren’t employed. Any of these reasons could make your loved one a prime target for a predator.
What to look for
There are signs of financial abuse which you can search for if you suspect abuse is happening. First, notice when excessive or unusual amounts of money get withdrawn. Unfortunately, but more often than not, your loved one’s friends Or, adult children who have a substance abuse problem, are socially isolated, are unemployed or trouble with finances or trouble with the police in their history can be taking money.
Some signs that there may be financial abuse happening in your loved one’s life may be:
- Bank statements or canceled checks go to the home of the person you suspect is financially abusing your loved one.
- There are transfers between accounts or sizeable unexplained bank withdrawals that haven’t any explanation.
- Piles of unpaid bills, shut-off notices for utilities or even an eviction notice then you need to find out where the money is going.
- The person refers to your loved one as their new best friend or another familial term of endearment like “uncle Joe or aunt Alice”.
- ATM withdrawals at times and at places you know that your parent couldn’t have made.
- Property or belongings missing and your parent has no idea where they went.
- A “new friend” shows an inordinate amount of interest in how much money your parent has coming in monthly.
- Signatures on legal documents and canceled checks are forged and not your parent’s signature.
- The “new friend” has explanations about what your parent spent money on that doesn’t sound plausible.
- Money has been spent, or financial arrangements have been made which are sketchy and haven’t any documentation.
What you can do
If you think that your parent or any other senior you know is being financially abused, confront the perpetrator and call the authorities. Plus, local and state social services are also there to help victims of elder financial abuse. The National Center on Elder Abuse will be happy to give the number to an elder abuse hotline in your state. This Center is in every state and will point you and your parent in the right direction. Monitoring bank records is a crucial step in helping ensure your parent’s hard work and assets are preserved for their benefit.
Elder financial abuse is more common than you may think. It can be someone who is a relative, an unscrupulous friend or even a person who is doing handyman work your parent has hired. It’s up to you to keep abreast on your parent’s finances and keep them safe.