According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, about 5 percent of senior citizens report elder financial abuse from a family member. This shocking statistic reinforces the need to protect elderly relatives or friends from becoming a victim of elderly financial exploitation. Read more to discover the warning signs of financial abuse.
Elder Financial Abuse is on the Rise
During the pandemic where isolation was more commonplace, seniors were more at risk than ever before with devious telemarketing and email phishing scams. The Federal Trade Commission and American Bar Association, among others, have issued warnings to seniors to be on the lookout for scammers.
Estimates place the amount of money seniors lose in financial exploitation scams at more than $2.5 billion annually. That amount could be much higher since only 1 in 44 cases of elder financial abuse or exploitation are being reported to authorities, according to the National Audit Protective Services Association.
We refer you back to a pair of blogs Manning & Clair have shared on the topic of financial exploitation that provide additional background: How to Spot the Red Flags of Elder Financial Exploitation and A Tale of Deceit: Exposing Elder Financial Exploitation.
Signs of Elderly Financial Exploitation and Abuse
There are indicators that an elderly relative, friend or neighbor could already be or is on the verge of becoming a victim of elder financial abuse or exploitation. Some signs are harder to detect than others, but keeping an eye out for anything suspicious can protect an elderly relative, neighbor or friend from becoming a victim. Warning signs include:
- Recent or sudden changes in behavior
- Unjustified fear or suspicion
- Refusal to open the door to family/friends
- Denial of obvious problems; refusal to recognize the need for help
- Implausible or inconsistent explanations for injuries
- Unaware of income or regular monthly expenses
- Recent changes to will, representative payee. trust documents, and/or power of attorney
- Transfers of title to property, change of beneficiaries on insurance policies
- Large cash withdrawals
- Newly opened joint accounts
- Payment of exorbitant prices for goods, services
- Depleted bank accounts
- Large amount of purchases on credit or ATM withdrawals
- Chronic failure to pay bills
- Frequently running out of money at the end of the month
- Frequent moves
How to Protect the Elderly From Financial Exploitation
The first thing you can do to help prevent elderly relatives or friends from becoming victims of elder financial abuse is to maintain regular contact with them. Knowing what is going on in their lives and who is involved will help prevent bad actors from entering the picture.
In elderly financial exploitation cases, the best advice to well-meaning relatives or friends is to trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel or sound right, ask questions and challenge new “friends” or relatives in a firm manner. If your gut continues to tell you that something isn’t right, discuss the situation with our experienced probate attorneys. We are enthusiastic about preventing abuse and will diligently work with you to seek justice.