The elderly are particularly vulnerable to scams or to financial abuse by family members or others in need of money. Financial abuse can be very difficult to detect, but there are warning signs.
How to detect financial elder abuse
The following are some signs that an elderly loved one may be the victim of financial abuse:
- The disappearance of valuable objects.
- Withdrawals of large amounts of money, checks made out to cash, or low bank balances.
- A new "best friend" and isolation from other friends and family.
- Large credit card transactions.
- Signatures on checks look different.
- A name added to a bank account or joint accounts that are newly formed.
- Indications of fear of caregivers.
What to do
If you suspect someone of being financially abused, there are several actions you can take:
- Report the crime by calling your local Adult Protective Services and state attorney general's office. File a police report.
- Explore options at your local probate court if your state has such courts. The court can intervene if someone in the family is misusing a power of attorney or their role as guardian or conservator.
- Contact advocacy organizations. The National Center on Elder Abuse offers guidance on how to investigate and seek justice for elder abuse. State laws vary, but some have elder abuse statutes and may be able to get restitution for breach of fiduciary duties.
- Try to get a temporary restraining order from a court while building your case.