According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, elder financial abuse or exploitation impacts over 2,000,000 Americans each year, and it is one of the fastest growing crimes committed against persons age 65 and older. If this abuse continues, this situation will grow significantly as the baby boomers begin reaching their senior years. Seniors, family member and caregivers should be on the lookout for these signs:
1. Sudden changes in a senior’s bank account or banking practices, particularly in the account balance and if there are numerous transfers.
2. Uncharacteristic and unexplained withdrawals of large sums of money by a senior or someone acting under a senior’s power of attorney.
3. Large credit card transactions or checks written to unusual recipients, like salespersons, telemarketers, or “cash.”
4. Abrupt changes in a senior’s will or other financial or estate planning documents; the transfer of a senior’s assets to a family member or acquaintance without a reasonable explanation.
5. Complaints of stolen or misplaced credit cards, valuables, checkbooks, or checks from the Social Security Administration, pensions or annuities.
6. Seniors who appear nervous when accompanied by another individual, or who give far-fetched explanations of why they need money.
7. Sudden increases in debt or inexplicable credit card transactions.
8. A person accompanying a senior who bullies the senior into making a withdrawal, or who does not allow the senior to speak for him or herself.
9. New signatories added to a senior’s account or newly formed joint accounts between a senior and another individual.
10. Possible forged signatures on financial transactions, documents for transfer of assets, or new applications for items like credit cards.
An elder law attorney is well versed in the issues facing today’s senior citizens, and can also help you put estate planning tools in place that can reduce the risks of your or your loved ones becoming victims.