Elder abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of income level, race, or religion. It may happen in many forms: Physical, Emotional, Sexual…the list goes on. The one we hear of most often in the banking industry is Financial Abuse.
What is financial elder abuse?
Financial elder abuse occurs when an older person’s money or belongings are stolen. This can happen through someone stealing checks, changing names on a will, or using another person’s credit or debit cards. Sometimes, it happens when a member of the elder’s family is put on the elder’s checking account and begins to use their money for their own personal expenses or financial gain. Caregivers could use the elderly person’s debit card to purchase gas or groceries…even order things online that are for their own use and not of benefit to the elderly person. Financial abuse is wide-spread and sometimes hard to detect.
How to report if you suspect financial abuse:
Oftentimes, the victims are ashamed to admit that they have been abused. Other times, they may have no idea that they have been taken advantage of because they may not be able to read their financial statements. If you suspect someone is being financially abused, talk to the elderly person. Then, get help at an agency who may assist you. If they are in immediate danger, please call 9-1-1 to get help or to get them out of a dangerous situation.
How to avoid this happening to you in your golden years:
The best way to avoid financial abuse as you get older is to make sure that you have your estate plan in place. Talk with family members, friends and other professionals that you know you can trust to have your best interest at heart. Have all income direct deposited into your checking account. Have all utilities automatically withdrawn from your account. Be cautious of anyone who offers you a “prize” or a “loan”. Place yourself on the Do Not Call Registry. This will dramatically reduce telemarketing calls. You may do so by calling 888-382-1222 or visiting www.donotcall.gov. Furthermore, do not sign any documents that you feel you are “pressured” to sign or that you don’t fully understand. If you feel that you need help with your finances, make sure that person has been properly screened and that background and criminal checks have been completed.
Please visit any of these sites for more information on financial and other types of elder abuse:
National Adult Protective Services Association: www.napsa-now.org
National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse: www.preventelderabuse.org/elderabuse
National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center: www.ltcombudsman.org
Commonwealth of Kentucky-Office of the Attorney General: http://ag.ky.gov
United States Department of Justice: www.justice.gov/elderjustice