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4 Tips to Spot Elder Financial Abuse

Elder financial abuse or exploitation takes place when an older adult is financially exploited by friends, family members, or caregivers - like long-term care staff. This crime is always upsetting, but is made worse when a parent is in a long-term care facility and loved ones aren’t there to prevent it or stop it. This is especially true during the pandemic, where restrictions meant to keep residents safe from COVID made them more vulnerable to scammers.

One reason elder financial abuse occurs so easily in long-term care facilities is because members of care teams can easily get access to financial records as well as medical records.  The Federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently released a guide to prevent this very problem, as reported in the article “Preventing Elder Financial Abuse When Your Parent Is In Long-Term Care” from next avenue. Below are four tips to spot the signs of elder financial abuse and exploitation.

  1. Monitor banking and credit card accounts regularly. Fraud alerts should be set up to be sent to the individual and a designated, trusted contact. An outside professional may also be hired to watch over the person’s finances.
  2. Listen for complaints about money or personal belongings going missing, don’t assume these are part of cognitive issues. Take steps to investigate and document findings.
  3. If an aging parent mentions a strange phone call or an unusual request by a staff member, immediately check their accounts, even if they insist no personal information was shared. Scammers are very good at what they do and can easily convince a victim nothing wrong has occurred. If something didn’t occur this time, a single phone call or conversation may be a warning of the parent being on someone’s radar as a possible victim.
  4. Be on alert when even small amounts of money are missing. Scammers typically begin small, testing the waters to see if the person, their family, or the financial institution is paying attention. Banks cannot discuss your parent’s finances with their investment advisor, due to privacy rules, so the designated family member needs to be in touch with any institutions handling their money.

As the old adage goes, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure". Putting protections in place before financial abuse or exploitation happens is the best strategy. If no family member has been given Power of Attorney (POA) over financial account,  this is a must - as long as the parent has legal capacity to grant this power. The POA will then have the legal ability to manage financial accounts for their loved one. If the parent or loved one is incapacitated, it may even be necessary for you to be named guardian. Vick Law, P.C. is experienced in Elder Law and Estate planning in the Greenwood and Indianapolis area and can help in putting these foundational documents in place. Contact us today to discuss your families Elder Law or Estate Planning needs to avoid potential issues with Elder Financial Abuse and Exploitation.

Reference: next avenue (Dec. 17, 2021) “Preventing Elder Financial Abuse When Your Parent Is In Long-Term Care”

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