Elder Abuse

Sadly, the elderly are especially vulnerable to financial abuse from caregivers, friends and even family members. Common forms of abuse include forging or coercing signatures, stealing money or financial information, overcharging them (or making up services) and using scams to swindle money. 

Red Flags 

Take a closer look if you see one or more of these warning signs: 

  • Financial management changes. If your loved one switches attorneys, financial planners or banks—or if their financial documents no longer come to their home—pay attention. Adding a new person to accounts may also be trouble.
  • Missing money. Transferring money to someone else (whether you know them or not), large cash withdrawals and signing property and assets over to others are all potential problems.
  • A new will. Changing who benefits from his or her estate could be perfectly harmless—or a sign of abuse.

Prevention Tips 

The best protection for your loved one is to be an active part of their life. With their permission: 

  • Vet helpers. Bringing in outside help is often necessary as people age, but it’s important to know who has access to sensitive information. Thorough reference and background checks are a good start.
  • Tag along. Does mom or dad have an appointment with a financial professional? Ask to come along so you can stay in the loop, as well as prevent them from buying products or services they don’t need.
  • Remove temptation. Cataloging and then locking up valuables keeps them safe from hired helpers, repair people or family/friends with sticky fingers. Also, consider a secured mailbox so incoming or outgoing mail—with their valuable data inside—can’t be swiped.