Tips for Protecting Your Senior From Financial Abuse
Financial abuse is often overlooked when it comes to elder abuse. However, financial abuse is much more common than most people think! According to recent reports, senior financial abuse was found to affect 36.9% of Americans over the age of sixty-five.
While financial abuse can come in many forms and can be extremely frustrating, there are ways to protect your senior family members.
Understanding Common Forms of Financial Abuse
The concept of financial abuse seems simple. However, the reality can be much more complex- and much devious. Here are some of the most common types of abuse to be aware of:
Unethical Businesses: Some legitimate businesses are quick to exploit vulnerable members of the population- including senior citizens. Aggressive marketing technique, unclear or deceptive policies, and misleading language are all often used to ensnare customers. Seniors who may not be able to catch on to deceptive marketing ploys are especially vulnerable.
Con Artists: Whether in person or on the internet, con artists are becoming increasingly more devious. Con artists may create an elaborate story of woe- even going so far as a distressed grandchild- in order to extort money from vulnerable seniors. On the other hand, other con artists may simply ask seemingly innocent questions in order to phish for information, which can be used to hack a bank account or steal an identity.
Unethical Caregivers: In some instances, caregivers, be they family or hired help, may not be care givers at all but abusers. This may include family members, friends, lawyers, or even hired help. When working with a vulnerable individual, some people choose to help, while others choose to exploit- which is why it is extremely important to hire people you can trust to care for your loved one. Unfortunately, this is a major category that accounts for an estimated $6.67 billion in annual losses.
Preventing Financial Abuse
Preventing financial abuse is difficult because the elder in question may not realize that they have been conned. Some actions to take include:
Talk to Your Loved One: Educate your loved one about common scams. This may include promising to call your seniors if anything happens to the grandkids so that they don’t fall for fake distress calls and reminding them not to give out security question information to strangers.
Offer to Help: If your loved one’s mental capacity is starting to become strained, offer to help with bills, shopping and other financial requirements. You should also make sure that your loved one is surrounded by trustworthy individuals including caregivers, lawyers, etc.,
Check In: Make it a point to occasionally check in on your loved one’s finances. Ask them if they need any help or if they’ve had an experience that they’ve found odd or disconcerting. If appropriate, you can also review your loved one’s financial statements every few months. If you’ve noticed anything suspicious- even a small unexplained charge- contact the bank or credit card company immediately.
Look and Listen: Talk to your loved ones about money on a regular basis and causally ask about spending as well as lending. If your senior family member is constantly mentioning that they are lending money to a family friend or if you notice missing family heirlooms you should take a closer look at the situation.
Dealing with Financial Abuse
If you’ve discovered that a senior in your family, or even among your friends, is being financially abused, contact the appropriate authorities as soon as possible. Remember that no one likes being swindled, so you may want to take some extra time to be there for your loved one.
Financial abuse of elders is recognized and frowned upon. If you suspect that your loved one has fallen victim to financial abuse, contacting the appropriate authorities swiftly will help rectify the situation.