The Elder Financial Protection Organization (EFPO) reports that financial abuse is the “largest form of elder abuse, and it is growing.” The short definition of elder financial abuse is “Misappropriation of an older person’s money or property.”
Sadly, the most frequent perpetrators are those the elder one trusts, such as caregivers, friends, and family members. If you are concerned about a loved one being financially abused, there are some signs to watch for.
Signs Someone You Love is Being Financially Abused by a Relative or Caregiver
Some signs that your loved one is being financially abused include:
- A relative has moved in with your loved one to “help out.” You then notice the loved one is becoming isolated and interactions with other loved ones are being limited.
- The relative who is “helping out” has quit their job, bought a new car, or any other sign that there has been a change in lifestyle or that the person is spending more money than they did in the past.
- When the “helper” allows you to visit, your loved one is withdrawn and may appear unkempt. You sense that the basic life necessities are not being provided for.
- Routine bills, like rent, mortgage, and utility bills, are not being paid for even though you know your loved one has the funds to pay them.
A “do-gooder” may offer to go to the grocery store for the elderly person who doesn’t notice that the grocery bill was much higher than it should be for the items that were requested.
If the do-gooder helps pay bills or stops at the bank to cash a check, when the elderly person is checking the bank statement later, they may just say to themselves that they are getting forgetful since they don’t remember withdrawing that much money.
How to Protect Yourself from Financial Abuse
You can take some specific steps you can take to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of financial abuse. Some examples are:
- Have direct deposit for all your benefit checks. If you send someone to deposit your checks, it gives them the opportunity to get cash back without you even being aware of it.
- Have your bank automatically pay your routine bills.
- Do not allow one family member to isolate you from other family members and friends.
- Open your own mail.
- Have your own attorney draw up a power of attorney so you can designate someone you know you can trust to deal with your finances when you are unable to deal with them yourself. Review the document periodically to be sure it still reflects your wishes.
- Do not sign any document presented to you by anyone without carefully reviewing it and asking for independent advice.
Contact Us for Assistance with Elder Financial Abuse
If you or someone you care about has been the victim of elder financial abuse, contact us at Beasley & Ferber. We provide the best available resources to protect our clients from abuse and to help them prepare for their financial future. You may contact us online or call us at 800-370-5010.