What Is Elder Financial Abuse?

According to the National Council on Aging, older Americans may lose up to $36.5 billion each year through financial abuse.

This abuse can happen to anyone, no matter the person's age, sex, race, religion, or ethnic or cultural background.

Hundreds of thousands of adults over the age of 60 are financially exploited every year.

US News and World Report’s recent article entitled “What Is Financial Abuse?” explains that financial abuse involves misusing funds, like stealing or withholding money from accounts.

The perpetrator could be a family member, spouse, caregiver, or anyone with access to the senior victim's accounts.

Here are some elder financial abuse signs to watch for:

  • Unpaid bills
  • Unusual changes in spending patterns
  • Fake signatures on financial documents
  • Statements from the victim that their money has been stolen
  • Missing checkbook, credit cards and/or debit cards; and
  • Misuse of power-of-attorney agreements.

Most victims of abuse are women. However, some are men.

The likely targets are seniors who have no family or friends nearby and people with disabilities, memory problems, or dementia.

While abuse can happen to any older adult, it frequently impacts those seniors who depend on others for help with activities of everyday life — including bathing, dressing and taking medicine.

People who are frail may look to be easy victims.

If you suspect your loved one is being financially abused, there are steps you can take to protect the victim.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has directions for documenting the abuse and how to file a report to authorities.

Reference: US News and World Report (Oct. 12, 2020) “What Is Financial Abuse?”

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