Financial Abuse with the Elderly
Older Americans are less likely to report that they have been scammed out of their money because they are ashamed or don’t know that they have been scammed. Elderly victims also may not report that they have been scammed because they are worried their relatives might think they no longer have the mental capacity to take care of their own financial affairs. This is hard on everyone: from the senior that finds out they have been swindled to the relative that finds out about the swindle and wishes he/she knew about it sooner to try to stop it. For the elderly, many do not want to report the fraud because they don’t know who to report it to, are too ashamed at having been scammed, or don’t know they have been scammed. In addition, elderly victims may not report crimes because they are concerned that relatives may think the victims no longer have the mental capacity to take care of their own financial affairs. It is so important that people understand the warning signs of elder financial abuse.
Caregivers – Pay Attention!
Those of us who are taking care of elderly parents need to pay attention to signs that may indicate some sort of elder financial abuse is happening or has happened. Here are some tips that should send up flags that your elderly relative may be the victim of financial abuse:
- A new “friend” that is increasing gaining the trust of your loved one
- Unexplained bank account withdrawals and increasing credit card charges
- Withdrawal by a loved one because he/she is either being isolated by a “friend” or he/she knows that he/she has just fallen victim to a financial fraud and are embarrassed
- Self-serving family members who get the relative to change his/her Will and other estate plan documents
The United States Special Committee on Aging Resources Page is published by the Senate and is a very informative website that provides a wealth of information on reporting financial abuse for the elderly. There are telephone numbers and website information to assist someone who believes he/she or a relative is the subject of a financial scam.