Americans between the ages of 70 and 90 are still the wealthiest age bracket in the U.S. Unfortunately, they are also prime targets for financial exploitation and abuse.
These abusers often target women between age 80 and 89, men who have recently lost a spouse or partner, those who are lonely, and those with a diminished mental capacity. Exploitation occurs when motive, opportunity, and means are stirred together. They are after hard assets like money and jewelry and have unrestricted access to their victim who trusts their abuser who either charms or flat out steals from the victim.
Unfortunately this is a growing issue. It’s so pervasive, that when creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, it specifically designed the Office of Older Americans to help combat this issue. We need to assist the Office of Older Americans and be on the lookout for our own loved ones by recognizing the signs:
- Changes in banking/spending habits
- Abrupt changes in a will, power of attorney, and/or financial documents
- Unpaid bills
- Lack of knowledge about finances
- New “friends”
- Unexplained missing valuables and/or money
- Unexplained money/asset transfers
- Forged signatures on checks/documents
- Isolation from family due to new “friends”
- Missed appointments
- Anxiety about finances
- Financial abuse can also mean physical abuse, so be on the lookout for bruises, broken bones, trips to the ER, etc.
The best way to stop financial abuse is to prevent it, and the best way to prevent it is to stay as proactive as possible. The more present you are in your loved one’s life the less of an opportunity the assailant will have to take advantage of them.
If you suspect financial abuse is occurring help them get information about exploitative behavior and report it to authorities and consult attorneys or financial professionals. If this seems to fail, you always have the option of filing for a protection order to limit the exploiters contact with the victim. Financial abuse is a crime that seldom gets justice. Make sure you take the precautionary measure the insure your loved one is safe from financial exploitation. This is why we at Home Health Companions go through an extensive background check on all our employees. For more information about our staff click here.