Fraud as a whole is on the rise, so it’s no surprise that cases of elder financial abuse is also increasing. This statistic will only grow as our large Baby Boomer population begins to enter senior citizen status. It’s important to know what to look for so you can identify and stop elder fraud before it affects you or a loved one.
Older individuals with retirement savings, accumulated home equity and other significant assets make appealing targets for unscrupulous family members, caregivers, financial advisors, fiduciaries (such as those with power of attorney and guardians) and unrelated scam artists. Seniors often are vulnerable due to isolation, cognitive decline, physical disability, health problems or the recent loss of a spouse.
Exact statistics on elder financial abuse are hard to come by, largely because victims hesitate to report it out of embarrassment. They also might suffer from cognitive impairments that prevent them from even realizing they’ve been victimized. But according to the National Adult Protective Services Association, one in every 20 elderly Americans is being financially exploited.
There are several financial signs of possible elder fraud, including:
- Frequent large withdrawals, including daily maximum currency withdrawals from an ATM
- Nonpayment of bills, which might indicate a loss of funds or access to funds
- Uncharacteristic debit transactions or attempts to wire large sums of money
- Closing accounts without regard to penalties
- Sudden change in financial management, such as appointing power of attorney to someone new
- Lack of knowledge about his or her financial status or a sudden reluctance to discuss financial matters
In addition, the victim’s social behavior may change. For example, the individual might exhibit an unusual degree of fear or submissiveness toward a caregiver. Victims may also pull away from existing relationships and adopt associations with new “friends” or strangers.
Caretakers who commit elder fraud often show excessive interest in the elder’s finances or assets. They may not allow the elder to speak for him- or herself or may be reluctant to leave the elder’s side during conversations.
Watch out for these and other potential signs of elderly financial abuse among your family members and friends. Even those without significant financial resources could become a target of fraud. If you have questions or are concerned that fraud is already occurring, JLK Rosenberger can help. Call us at 949-860-9902 or click here to contact us.