Elder Law News

Recent Financial Abuse Crimes Perpetrated on the Elderly

Elder Law

As people get older, responsibilities that were once easy to accomplish become harder to do. There’s no shame in these difficulties because everyone will get to that point in their life one day. Driving, shopping, and handling finances are a few responsibilities that the elderly need assistance with as they age.

 As people age, they depend on others to help with their financial responsibilities like paying bills and loans. Remembering when, where, and why they are paying for something can diminish as they age, which could mean defaulting on any loans they have.

 It’s important to legally document your assets and identify who will be handling your finances if you decide to trust someone with your financial information. It’s also important to be wary about who you are trusting. Let’s take a look at some of the things seniors should be aware to avoid financial troubles and abuse.

Who are the financial abusers of the elderly?

As people age, their responsibilities like finances tend to fall to a family member or close friends since they are not in the right mindset to handle them. Seniors obviously trust who they give their financial information to, which is why financial abuse can easily occur. Abusers could be someone as close as a relative, or as distant as a door to door salesman.

 In addition to people, they’re related to, the elderly can be financially taken advantage of by their financial advisors or bank employees. Even their caretakers like doctors and nurses can order unnecessary tests or keep them in the hospital for longer than necessary. Even strangers can commit fraud against the elderly via phone calls or text messages asking for banking information.

What can the elderly do to prevent financial abuse?

To protect their assets, seniors should take the following steps to protect their finances:

Step 1: Receive all financial statements by mail.

By receiving statements by, you will have a record of your credit card purchases, loan information, and healthcare bills. You can have an itemized list of what you should be paying and compare it against what you should have in your bank account.

Step 2: Keep financial information private.

When talking with your financial advisor, credit card company, or close family members about finances, be sure you are in a private area to discuss it. Keep your financial information in a private hiding place like a safe with a code.

Step 3: Never share financial information with unknown sources.

There are many scam emails, phone calls, and mailers sent out to see who will share their personal financial information. Don’t share any information with anyone unless you are 100% sure you know who they are.

Step 4: Prepare legal documents before your health declines.

Be sure your legal documents are prepared and you have clearly spoken with a lawyer regarding your estate planning.

What kind of financial abuse is the elderly experiencing?

A family member or close friend can commit financial crimes by:

Being Your Power of Attorney

When someone close to you is your power of attorney, you are giving that person access to all of your information including your finances. While this can be a trusted person and it is needed because your health is deteriorating, it’s important to choose someone who cares about you, not just your money.

Having Access to Your Wallet

If your caretaker has access to your wallet to pay your bills or if it’s in close proximity to them, they have access to your credit cards and your banking. They can withdraw money from an ATM or write themselves checks without your knowledge. Since you trust them, they can ask for your signature and you may sign it, not knowing what it’s for.

Having Access to Changing Your Will

To make sure they receive everything once you pass, they could have all the information they need to change your will. If your health has gone downhill, and they are your power of attorney, they could revise your will. This is why it’s important to write down your wishes and have them filed with an estate planning lawyer.

 In addition to people you may know, complete strangers will try to steal your financial information through tricky ways that seem legitimate:

Fake Phone Calls

Scammers can call your home acting as if they are an employee from a financial institution, from your healthcare provider, etc. just to get more information from you, so they can get money.

Phishing Emails

As you check your emails, you may receive an email that looks professional but is actually trying to scam you. In a phishing email, the sender is trying to get you to click on a link which will lead you to entering personal information. These emails are designed to look like emails similar to ones you normally receive from work, a store, etc. By checking the sender’s email and scanning the email, you should be able to decipher whether it is a real email or not.

Take Care of Yourself by Taking Care of Your Finances

If you are being financially taken advantage of, or even if you just think you’re being taken advantage of, find a lawyer that can help. If you are worried about your finances or have already seen a mysterious amount taken from you, contact a lawyer. Sometimes there are pro bono lawyers available if you are in need of one and cannot work out the finances to afford one. Whatever you do, make sure you and your money are in safe hands.

 Haley Brase is a writer for Loans.org. She lives in Iowa with her boyfriend and loves to work with flowers when she can.

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