Financial elder abuse is a growing problem that affects millions of older adults every year. It is the illegal or unethical exploitation of an elderly person’s assets, and it can take many forms, including fraud, scams, theft, or mismanagement of funds. Unfortunately, many older adults are vulnerable to financial abuse because they may be isolated, have limited mobility, or suffer from dementia or other cognitive impairments. To help prevent financial elder abuse, it is important to be aware of the warning signs and take steps to protect yourself or your loved ones.
One way to recognize financial elder abuse is to look for sudden changes in an elderly person’s financial situation. For example, if an elderly person suddenly has large withdrawals from their bank account, new credit cards, or loans that they did not take out, it could be a sign of financial abuse. Another warning sign is when an elderly person gives money or property to someone who they previously did not have a close relationship with. This could indicate that they are being coerced or misled into making gifts or transferring assets.
To prevent financial elder abuse, Stone & Sallus suggests taking the following steps:
- Keep your financial information private and secure. Be cautious about giving out your personal or financial information to anyone, and never provide it over the phone or the internet unless you are sure of the person’s identity.
- Be wary of unsolicited offers. Be cautious of unsolicited offers of “free” trips, investment opportunities, or lottery winnings, as these are often scams.
- Stay informed. Stay informed about the latest scams and frauds targeting older adults by reading news articles, attending community events, or speaking with financial advisors.
- Protect your assets. Consider setting up a revocable trust, durable power of attorney, or another financial arrangement that allows you or someone you trust to manage your assets if you become unable to do so.
By being aware of the warning signs of financial elder abuse and taking steps to protect your assets, you can help prevent this growing problem. If you suspect that you or someone you know is a victim of financial elder abuse, it is important to report it to the authorities immediately.