Preventing Financial Elder Abuse
June 13, 2019
Did you know that each year nearly 200,000 Californians are victims of elder abuse?
In order to prevent elder abuse, you must first be able to recognize its signs. Unfortunately, there are several signs to look for, including emotional problems, isolation, or even physical attacks.
As a bank, we concentrate on financial elder abuse. We are always on the lookout for financial irregularities from our elderly customers, as those can often be signs of abuse. For example, one common attempt to trick the elderly involves asking them to send money via wire transfer, because those transactions cannot be reversed. We are also alarmed when an elderly person visits the bank with a younger family member who either talks on behalf of or consistently interrupts the elderly person, and all of the cash transfers are in the younger person’s favor. Bank employees also look for caregivers who have control of an elderly person’s money, but are failing to meet some of that person’s basic needs. We are wary of any elders who have signed property transfers, or recently updated their will, but appear unable to fully comprehend or explain those changes.
You can help us prevent financial elder abuse! The following basic steps can be taken to protect an elderly parent or family member.
- Prepare any wills or power of attorney documents before the older person begins to experience any sort of cognitive decline. In other words, the earlier the better.
- Monitor the elderly person’s bank accounts. Set up automatic payments and transaction alerts where possible.
- If an elderly person lacks or turns down opportunities to purchase normally affordable household items, it may be a sign their money is going elsewhere.
- Hired caregivers should be able to provide you with receipts for any purchases made for the elderly person. However, they shouldn’t be required to pay bills or use the elderly person’s credit card.
- Be aware of scams that specifically target the elderly, including medical, lottery, and charity scams.
- Any offer in the mail that seems “too good to be true” probably is.
- If anyone asks for money over the phone, don’t do it.
If you uncover any fraud attempts, report them to the proper authorities. Financial fraud can be reported to the Federal Trade Commission.
For more resources on how to stop elder abuse, please visit the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) at ncea.acl.gov.