If you or an elderly loved one has recently been the victim of a scam, fraud, deception, or criminal act that resulted in financial losses and other harms, you might have a case of financial exploitation on your hands. Financial exploitation refers to a form of elder abuse that’s become more prominent in recent years, largely due to advances in technology. Financial abusers now have more sophisticated means of tricking the elderly and stealing their money or assets. Here’s what to know about financial exploitation and what to do if an abuser targets you. If the abuser is a caregiver, be sure to speak with a Kansas City nursing home abuse attorney as soon as possible.
Identifying Elder Financial Exploitation
Financial exploitation is a blanket phrase that can refer to almost endless forms of financial abuse, typically against a senior citizen. Financial exploitation can involve scams by strangers, bad faith dealings by professional financial advisors, and the exploitation of an elderly person’s vulnerability by friends and family members.
According to the National Adult Protective Services Association, 90% of financial abusers are family members or other people the elderly individual trusts. Caregivers, relatives, neighbors, and friends may use their positions of trust to take advantage of the person to pull off scams. Examples of financial exploitation include:
- Convincing or threatening the victim to make changes to wills
- Fake charities asking for donations
- Fake contractors offering to perform repairs “cheaply”
- Financial advisors giving bad advice to make money
- Identify theft
- Internet phishing and email scams
- IRS tax debt scams
- Lottery and sweepstakes scams
- Pyramid schemes or unrealistic investment scams
- Someone calling and convincing the victim to wire money
- Telemarketing scams and threats
Keep a sharp eye out for signs of financial exploitation in its many possible forms. Pay attention your loved one’s bank accounts and statements, looking for red flags like unauthorized deductions or checks that your loved one signed, but aren’t in your loved one’s handwriting. If your loved one is giving overly generous gifts to a new caregiver, investigate. Teach your loved one about financial exploitation, and tell him or her to report strangers requesting money, unscheduled home repairs, threatening phone calls, or other forms of financial abuse.
What to Do About Financial Exploitation
It’s always better to avoid becoming the victim of financial exploitation than trying to repair the damage after the fact. If your loved one has already suffered losses, however, all hope is not lost. With help from an elder abuse attorney, you may be able to sue the responsible party and get back most or all of what the perpetrator stole. It is up to you to encourage your loved one to report financial exploitation – studies show that victims only report one in 44 cases. The sooner the truth comes out, the sooner you can take action to hold the abuser accountable.
As soon as you suspect financial exploitation, put a hold on credit cards, bank accounts, checks, and other forms of payment in your loved one’s name. Contact the bank and explain that a scammer or hacker has comprised the account. If the financial exploitation caused physical injury (i.e. lack of proper medical care or another form of elder abuse in conjunction with financial abuse), take your loved one to the hospital. Then, contact a lawyer in Kansas City to help you take the first steps toward justice for your loved one.