On the Rise: Financial Abuse of Older Adults

February 16th, 2019 | Posted by admin in Uncategorized

Seniors are often targeted for financial abuse. Con artists think older adults are more trusting and naïve, making them more likely to fall for a scam. Perceived loneliness can also play a role in targeting seniors. Whatever the reason, experts say this trend is likely to continue growing.

With an average of 10,000 older adults turning 65 every day, seniors are an expanding demographic group. It’s also a group with significant assets. The American Bankers Association says people over the age of 50 own 61 percent of bank accounts and 70 percent of bank deposits.

With statistics like those, it’s easy to see why seniors are targeted for financial crimes and abuse.

If you are an adult child of a senior or a professional who works with older adults, you can help keep them safe. It starts by learning how to recognize the warning signs that a senior is being victimized.

Signs of Financial Abuse among Seniors                              

Here are a few red flags that might indicate an older adult has fallen victim to financial abuse:

  • Decline in standard of living: Many older adults live on a tight budget. However, a significant change in their standard of living might be a warning sign. It could indicate that someone, either a family member or a scammer, has taken money from them.
  • Missing money: If you help your senior loved one pay bills and manage finances, keep an eye out for missing checks, unusual credit card purchases, and frequent withdrawals. If you notice anything unusual, ask them about it. Sometimes, older adults aren’t aware that money has been taken from them.
  • New companion or friend: It isn’t uncommon for older adults who have lost a spouse to look for love again. Senior groups and online dating make it easy to meet new people. While no one wants to think the worst, it’s always a good idea to learn more about any new people in a senior’s life. Also monitor who pays for outings and if the companion seems to be benefitting financially.
  • Calls from debt collectors: When a senior falls victim to a financial crime, it may leave them unable to pay their bills and too proud to admit they’ve been taken advantage of. Overdue bills and calls from creditors about past due accounts can signal that something is wrong.
  • Isolation: Another sign something is wrong is when an outgoing older adult becomes isolated. Oftentimes, someone close to them is taking their money while simultaneously keeping loved ones away.

What to Do If You Suspect a Senior Is Being Abused

We all have a duty to report abuse if we suspect an older adult is being victimized. Sometimes, financial abuse is part of a broader problem that also includes physical or emotional abuse. If it seems like a senior is in jeopardy, call 911 immediately. It is the best way to get them out of an unsafe environment quickly.

Depending on the situation, there are additional avenues for help:

  • Every state has an Adult Protective Services (APS) agency with multiple locations. You can report your concerns to them and they will initiate a face-to-face meeting with the senior. All states allow anonymous reporting if you fear retribution.
  • If you are concerned an older family member is the victim of financial abuse, talk with their financial advisor, bank manager, or attorney. Financial institutions are legally bound to report suspected cases of abuse. They can investigate your concerns and determine if there is a problem.

One final note to keep in mind is that elder financial abuse happens to older adults of all socioeconomic backgrounds. Even those who live on a very limited budget might fall victim to abuse.

To learn more about fraud and scams targeting seniors, we encourage you to read “How to help seniors avoid fraud.” It covers topics ranging from insurance fraud to identity theft.

Source: Sunrise Senior Living

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