Financial Elder Abuse Exploitation: Cause for Concern
Elders and dependent adults are financially vulnerable for a wide variety of reasons. From the natural aging process and the impacts of illness to social isolation and loneliness, financial elder abuse occurs frequently in our society. California defines “elder” as those who are at least 65 years of age. This population faces a greater risk to financial victimization.
Sadly, their perpetrators often include long-term care providers at nursing homes and individuals specifically appointed to act as his or her financial manager or representative. Some studies show that even family members, friends and neighbors account for a good portion of committing elder financial elder abuse engagement. The most common types of financial abuse toward the elderly involve fraud, theft, and neglect or misuse of authority. Examples include:
- Scams involving healthcare providers and Medicaid fraud
- Real estate predatory lending
- Credit card/insolvency
- Investment fraud
- Abusing power of attorney authorization
- Home repairs
- Funeral and cemetery
- Telemarketing/mail/internet – using such information unlawfully
Due to the trusted relationship, elderly often comply with the scam or false representation of their finances, property, retirement funds and other assets. The result? Loss of security, trust, and finances. Such devastating losses are followed by depression, anger and fear because the crime, most likely, was carried out by a trusted individual.
According to the Adult Protective Services Association Financial, older Americans are being scammed more than $35 billion every year. Approximately 20 percent of those 65 and older have identified themselves as victims of some form of financial mistreatment or criminal fraud.
Averting Financial Elder Abuse
To avoid common scams and rip-offs, there are some methods elders can pursue:
- Community involvement – don’t isolate yourself from family, friends and your religious community
- Limit access to bank accounts – such information should be strictly limited to individuals you fully trust
- Monitor financial accounts regularly – do not give away your PIN and Social Security number, check for suspicious activity
- Store all credit/debit cards and other valuables in a safe place – thieves strike quickly
- Conduct background checks on caregivers and advisors – know who you hire before any business transactions occur
- Don’t “shoot from the hip” – avoid making quick decisions regarding your financial affairs without knowing all the facts and individuals involved
To help combat the elderly from financial abuse, California enacted the Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act (EADACPA) in 1982. EADACPA defines neglect of an elder/dependent as “[t]he negligent failure of any person having the care or custody of an elder or a dependent adult to exercise that degree of care that a reasonable person in a like position would exercise.” Likely scenarios include practicing safety hazards and providing proper nutrition, shelter, clothing, or medical care.
Prior to the EADACPA, it was difficult for victims to hire an attorney even when the abuse was blatant and obvious. If the elderly plaintiff passed away, then the right to recover general damages would also die. Thanks to the EADACPA, additional remedies for those who have experienced financial elder abuse include recovering attorney fees and court costs when the financial scam is proven.
If you believe that you or a loved one has been a victim of financial elder abuse, contact one of our experienced attorneys at Stokes O’Brien for a free case evaluation. You may reach us at (619) 696 0017.