July 27, 2016

Keeping You Safe and Secure: Financial Exploitation

Financial Abuse an Unfortunate Occurrence

Awareness of scams is key

Financial exploitation occurs when a person takes or misuses the assets of another person for their own benefit—without their knowledge or consent.  The victims are typically seniors or disabled persons, and the abusers are often trusted persons in their lives.  Senior financial abuse is costing seniors $2.9 billion a year and some experts say this figure is likely higher due to the number of cases that go unreported.

There are many forms of financial abuse, with the abusers being strangers, professionals, and trusted individuals in the seniors’ lives.  Here are some of the commonly reported forms and common scams, provided by the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA):

  • Theft—taking cash, valuables, medications, or other personal property without knowledge
  • Fraud—falsification of records, forgery, and unauthorized check writing.
  • Real estate—unauthorized or invalid changes to estate documents
  • Lottery scams—involves payments to collect unclaimed property or “prizes” from lotteries or sweepstakes
  • Grandparent scams—involves a call asking for money to get your grandchild out of jail
  • Electronic—”phishing” email messages to obtain passwords
  • Contractor—contractors receiving payment for repairs but never completes the project
  • Investment—investments made without knowledge or consent; may also include high-fee funds or excessive trading activity to generate commissions for financial advisors
  • Insurance—sales of inappropriate products

Awareness and education on the issue are the best ways to safeguard yourself and your aging loved ones.  Below is a checklist of suspicious activities, provided by NAPSA, that you can watch for:

  • Termination of vital utilities such as telephone, water, electricity, etc.
  • Unpaid bills despite adequate income
  • Check written to “cash”
  • Unexplained disappearance of cash or valuable items
  • Oversight of finances surrendered to others without explanation or consent
  • Transferring assets to new “friends” assisting with finances
  • Does not understand his/her current finances
  • Unexplained or unauthorized changes to wills or other estate documents
  • Giving away money or spending promiscuously
  • Appearance of property liens or foreclosure notices

If you suspect someone in your life is a victim of senior financial abuse, reach out to your local Adult Protective Services.

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