Protect Your Elders from Financial Abuse
When it comes to financial exploitation, the unfortunate reality is that the elderly are often the targets of scams and other abusive criminal activity. Since financial elder abuse is a crime that is on the rise, it is important to recognize when it is taking place. It is also important to understand what steps should be taken if you feel that your elderly loved ones are falling victim to an abuser.
What is financial elder abuse?
Financial elder abuse is a crime that involves taking advantage of elderly people in some way that compromises their financial well-being. According to the American Bankers Association, since seventy percent of the wealth in America is owned by those over fifty years old, elder financial abuse is on the rise. It has been reported that seniors in the US lose approximately $36.5 billion each year due to financial abuse. Many of these scams target a senior’s lack of understanding of fast growing technology, and many scams are quite sophisticated.
Phishing techniques are one way that seniors are falling prey to scammers. These phishing techniques involve sending the senior an email that appears to be from a trusted financial institution, but in reality it is a criminal at the other end who can then gain access to the senior’s bank account or credit card when the unsuspecting victim logs into the false website.
There are also more targeted and personal forms of elder financial abuse such as predatory lending, in home care providers charging extra fees to their clients, identity theft, and even at times, theft by friends and family.
How to spot financial elder abuse
If you suspect that someone in your family is falling victim to financial elder abuse, here are some signs you can look for.
- Is there any unusual activity in their bank accounts such as large unexplained withdrawals, or even closed accounts?
- Are they making drastic changes to their will?
- Are there new people in their life that appear to be benefiting financially from the friendship?
- Has the elder become more quiet or sensitive about discussing financial issues than they were previously?
How to prevent financial elder abuse
One of the best ways to combat financial elder abuse is to stop it before it starts. By taking a proactive approach to your loved one’s care and finances, many of these current scams can be avoided. One way to prevent financial elder abuse is to make sure that home care workers or others who will have access to potentially sensitive documents are fully vetted before caring for your loved one.
Make sure you keep the lines of communication open between you and your elderly relative and let them know that they can come to you with any new financial requests they are presented with. You can also help your elder by using credit monitoring and other technologies available to safeguard their identity and accounts. Discussing common scams such as email phishing, identity theft, or fake sweepstakes prizes before the situations present themselves can go a long way in preventing future abuse.
What to do if you suspect elder abuse
If you suspect that someone you love is falling victim to elder abuse it’s important to take action to help them. First of all, try having a conversation with your loved one and ask them what is going on. It is not unusual for them to feel embarrassed about the situation or feel unsure about how to move forward. It is important to be honest and open with your loved one and make sure you get the right information to help them. If you feel that your loved one may be a victim report the abuse to his or her bank. You can also contact your area’s local Adult Protection Services office.
A financial advisor can also help
If your loved one has a trusted financial advisor, he or she can help to make sure that things are running smoothly and that your senior’s accounts are free from abuse. If you do not currently have a financial advisor, but would like to discuss ways one can help you and your loved ones plan for a secure financial future, Tobias Financial Advisors would be happy to help. We work with many high income families to secure their futures and those of their future generations. Please learn more about our team here.