Preventing elder financial abuse

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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -- According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), millions of older Americans are financially abused and about 84 percent of cases go unreported. Older Americans can fall victim to financial abuse including telemarketing scams, confidence crimes and forgery.

The FTC says you must be on the lookout for suspicious sudden changes in an elder’s financial situation such as:

  • Changes in their wills or powers of attorney
  • Financial activity the person couldn’t have done themselves
  • Bills not being paid
  • Significant withdrawals or unusual purchases
  • Forms of elder financial abuse according to the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (NCPEA) are:

  • Taking money or property
  • Forging their signature
  • Signing a deed, will or power of attorney through deception, coercion or undue influence
  • Usage of property or possessions without permission
  • Promising lifelong care in exchange for money or property and not following through
  • Confidence crimes (“cons”) are the use of deception to gain victims’ confidence
  • Telemarketing scams
  • Scams to look out for:

  • Grandparent scam: Scammers call pretending to be grandchild asking for money due to a crisis. They ask for payment via Western Union, MoneyGram, etc.
  • Door-to-door sales scams: People will go to your house and make a low offer for a service and let you know it’s only good at the moment.
  • Charitable check scams: People claim they work with a charity and ask for donations or money for raffles. Do research about the charity and say you’ll donate at a later time.
  • Typically, it is the closest family members who care for the finances of elder people. In some cases, the family members such as sons or grandchildren are the perpetrators. Some potential reasons are a bad relationship with the family member, financial problems and inheritance disputes.

    People over the age of 50 control more than 70 percent of the nation’s wealth according to the NCPEA. This makes them an attractive target. Another reason these people are taken advantage of is because of their lack of understanding of financial matters. Due to new technology and services offered by financial institutions it can be difficult for them to understand.

    To prevent elder financial abuse, it is important to closely monitor and manage older family members’ finances responsibly. Professionals like bankers and personal accountants should also be aware of any financial abuse indicators in their client’s activities.