Preventing Elder Financial Abuse
As people get older, they are more at risk to experience financial abuse. Financial abuse happens when someone misuses a person’s money or property for their own gain. This can happen in a number of ways, from taking money or accessing accounts without permission, charging too much for services or even failure to pay back borrowed money.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CPFB) says there are four steps to help prevent you or your loved ones to falling victim to financial abuse.
- Prevent – Make sure that you and your loved ones are educated on the types of abuse, as well as other financial scams.
- Recognize – Use your knowledge to spot the warning signs.
- Record – Document what you observe, which is crucial to the final step of reporting.
- Reporting – Report abuse to the appropriate authorities so that it may be investigated and stopped.
Often, Elder Financial Abuse is a complex issue. Though some people may have legal access to funds of an elderly person to help manage money, pay bills, etc., they can still misuse money in their accounts. This can happen by failing to pay for basic needs such as clothing or utilities, or can happen by simply using the money for their own gain.
Changes in your loved ones financial habits can be telling. Some things to look out for include:
- Checks being made out to “cash”
- Writing checks as gifts to caregivers
- Seeing different versions of their signature
- Unusual gift card purchases or wire transfers
- Sudden interest in social media platforms or money transfer apps
If you see any of these, there could be a financial abuse situation taking place. Ask your own questions and contact the proper authorities.
Additionally, many elderly fall victim to scams, such as lottery, individuals calling and pretending to be from their bank, sweepstakes scams and even online scams. Education of these types scams is the best way to prevent falling victim to them.
As a community bank, Pennian Bank staff is always looking out for signs of financial abuse for our customers, but we are just a part of the puzzle.
If you suspect financial abuse, contact the proper authorities.
The CFPB website offers a helpful guide to preventing elder financial abuse. As always, if you suspect something isn’t right with your loved ones finances, we are here to help.