When we think of the mistreatment of our elders or nursing home neglect, what often comes to mind are the physical and emotional forms of abuse. Physical abuse may come in the form of hitting, pushing, pinching, or forcefully controlling the elderly person to do something that they do not wish to do. Abuse and neglect also come in the forms of sexual abuse, yelling at or belittling the elderly person, or depriving them of basic needs and necessities such as clean bedding, water, and food. In fact, the list goes on and on. However, there is another common form of abuse that we sometimes forget to think about – financial abuse. The Elder Fraud Survey estimates that one in five Americans over the age of 65 has been financially taken advantage of.
What Does Financial Abuse Consist of?
According to the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, financial abuse can include any of the following:
- Stealing money or property;
- Convincing an older person to sign a will, deed, or power of attorney by using deception or undue influence;
- Use of the elderly person’s personal possessions or property without their consent;
- Not following through on a promise of lifelong care when money or property of the elderly person’s has been exchanged for the service;
- Illegal cons used to gain confidence;
- Scams and deception;
- Fraud (the use of dishonest and deceptive means to achieve financial gain); and
- Telemarketing scams.
There are various types of people that take advantage of older people. They can be family members, nursing home staff, or complete strangers. Family members such as spouses, children, and grandchildren will take advantage if they have financial issues of their own, a substance abuse, or a gambling addiction. They may feel justified for their actions because they believe they have a right to inherit or feel that the care they have given deserves a financial reward. Family members may also be jealous towards other members of the family that possibly stand to inherit more than them, or they possess such greed that they simply don’t want the older person to use up all their savings in the last years of their lives.
Non family members who wish to steal from or con older people may profess their love to an older person or attempt to seek employment to get close to their victim. The lonelier and more isolated the older person is, the more at risk they are of being taken advantage of. Furthermore, the more physically or mentally disabled an older person is, the easier it is for a scammer or other financial predator to take advantage of them. Even legitimate business will take advantage of older people by overcharging or using unfair business practices if they believe they can make a better profit on an older person who they deem may lack financial sense or witts.
Signs of Financial Abuse to Watch For
The following are signs to be aware of that may indicate elder financial abuse:
- Recent debt;
- Unpaid bills or eviction notices;
- Unexplained bank account withdrawals and other unusual account activity;
- A sudden new best friend or romance, especially if the age gap is great;
- Caregiver has an unusual interest in the spending on or of an older person;
- Older person does not know or understand financial agreements made; and/or
- A lack of financial documentation about arrangements.
If you notice any of these signs or suspect that your loved one is being taken advantage of financially, please don’t hesitate to give one of our experienced San Diego elder financial abuse attorneys a call today at 858-350-8855. Berman & Riedel, LLP is here to help.