Financial abuse of the elderly is becoming more prevalent as creative scammers continue to prey on a growing demographic. While senior citizens may be the most vulnerable to financial abuse, financial abuse can happen to anybody and it is important to be able to identify the warning signs before it is too late.
The main perpetrators of financial abuse can be relatives, spouses, a close friend, or of course, someone who is a complete stranger. Examples of financial abuse may include forging paperwork on checks or other documents, sales agents charging high fees & commissions for unsuitable products, stealing money, fraudulent charges, or even using scare tactics to coerce the elderly to act in a manner that is not in their best interests.
While it is nearly impossible to protect against every threat, we can always try to stay diligent and look out for warning signs for not only our financial households but for elderly friends and family. Some signs of financial abuse may include a change in behavior, impulsive changes in beneficiaries or power of attorney, a change in spending habits, or even a new friendship / relationship that may seem to be moving too quickly. If anything seems out of the ordinary, it may be beneficial to look into it.
If you are concerned about a senior who may have become a victim of financial abuse there are resources that can help. The US Department of Justice website is a good place to start at: www.justice.gov/elderjustce/financial-exploiation.