Elder abuse isn't restricted to physical abuse; there are other forms of abuse, including financial abuse. Financial abuse takes different forms such as forgery and fraud. For example, a caregiver may promise lifelong care to an elder in exchange for a real estate property. Here are some of the telltale signs that may point to elder financial abuse:
Mysterious Asset Transfer
Mysterious expenditures or transfer of assets should rouse your suspicion, especially if they were open and straightforward before. Check written to "friends," large donations to charities, unexplained credit card charges, and sudden financial difficulties to confirm that they haven't been victimized by financial abuse. Perpetrators of this crime have ingenious ways of carrying out their schemes, so don't let anything slide if it seems suspicious. For example, a caregiver may convince an elderly person to give them power of attorney to manage the elder's finances. The caregiver can then use this power to siphon the elder's assets for personal gain.
Unpaid Bills and Liabilities
You should also be suspicious if your loved one seems to be struggling financially despite adequate income and assets. For example, you should investigate your loved one's finances if their phone contract has been terminated, rent is in arrears, the yard is unkempt, and insurance premiums aren't being paid in time. This is likely to happen if another person (the abuser) is using the money that should be used for settling these bills.
Unexplained Disappearances of Valuable Items
Elder financial abuse doesn't have to involve grand schemes of fraud; sometimes it takes the form of plain theft. Those who have access to your loved one's residence may "help themselves" to the elder's valuable items, especially those small enough to be carried out with ease. Expensive watches, jewelry, and cash may start disappearing from the house without the usual signs of burglary, such as broken windows or doors.
Missing Financial Statements
Those who commit elder financial abuse obviously don't want to be caught. To cover up their trails, they may also steal or hide financial statements from the victims. You should be suspicious, therefore, if your loved one doesn't get their credit card statements, communications from their insurers, and their bank statements as before.
Don't wait until you are sure that financial abuse (or any form of abuse) is taking place before you can take action. Whenever you suspect something fishy is going on, carry out some investigations to get to the root of the matter. You should also consult a lawyer, such as those at Prediletto, Halpin, Scharnikow & Nelson, P.S., to discuss your options for legal recourse.Share