5 Types of Financial Abuse to Know this World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

Did you know elder abuse is one of the most important, and upsetting, issues facing Older Americans today?

Like other forms of abuse, it can be confusing, terrifying, and even embarrassing to the victim. Aging adults might also fear retaliation, or getting the abuser in trouble, which is a significant dilemma when family members are behaving abusively. As a result, many decline to report it and the problem remains unaddressed.

It is a problem impacting millions of aging adults. According to the U.S. Administration on Community Living, an estimated 5 million American seniors are abused, neglected, or exploited every year. Many millions more are impacted around the world.

To combat the problem, professionals across the country are honoring World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15th.

One type of elder abuse that may not be as obvious as physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, is financial exploitation. It is estimated that at least $2.6 billion is stolen from American seniors annually. Sadly, these are funds that likely would have helped pay for critical items such as housing, food, and medical care.

Did you know, however, that just as there are many types of elder abuse, there are different types of financial abuse and exploitation? Let us share a few of the most common forms for you to be aware of right now.

1. Fraud. One of the ways fraud in the elder abuse context occurs is when trusted individuals appropriate an elder person’s financial resources for unintended purposes. This involves forgery, falsifying records, and making unauthorized payments.  

2. Theft. Put simply, this occurs when an elder person’s assets are taken without his or her knowledge or permission. This may include actual money, real property, or valuables.

3. Insurance. Insurance schemes are one of the most frequent financial abuses reported to Adult Protective Services across the nation. It usually involves the dubious sale of inappropriate products, such as a thirty-year annuity to a very elderly person who will not live to see his or her money repaid.

4. Internet. Older adults are particularly vulnerable to online scams and “phishing” email messages. Make sure your aging relatives know that they should never give out personal information online. This may include bank account information, credit card numbers, or Social Security numbers.

5. Estate Documents. This involves the unauthorized changing of a last will and testament, trust agreement, or other estate planning document, or the sale or transfer of estate assets. It may also occur when the person is in a position of trust with the senior and takes advantage of the trust and accesses the money he or she is custodian of.

We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. We are committed to advocating for you and your aging loved ones. Do not wait to contact our local office to learn more about this epidemic and the ways we can work together to stop it.