As your loved one gets older, you may be noticing signs of poor judgment. This is certainly upsetting, and you may do your best to shield him or her from any decisions that would cause harm. However, you may also be noticing signs that something is wrong with your loved one's finances.
It is not unusual for senior citizens to fall prey to fraud. In fact, some studies show as many as one in nine elderly citizens report being victims of some kind of abuse or exploitation, and even more feel they may be victims of fraud. These unconscionable actions upon the most vulnerable members of society can have physical and emotional effects as well as devastating financial consequences.
Trouble right under your nose
The sad truth is that the perpetrators of elder fraud are often those closest to the victim. If your loved one has friends or family members who recognize his or her vulnerability, isolation or dependence on others, the situation may be ripe for exploitation. Some common schemes of financial abuse include the following:
- Asking for donations to a fake charity
- Stealing your loved one's identity or using his or her credit cards without permission
- Convincing your loved one to invest in fraudulent schemes
- Embezzling money from your loved one's bank account
- Persuading your loved one to transfer valuable assets to someone else or stealing them outright
- Influencing your loved one to change his or her will or the beneficiaries on insurance policies
You may notice a sudden decrease in the amount of money in your loved one's account or changes in your loved one's banking procedures. It may be clear who is perpetrating the abuse if the friend or family member always seems to be close by so that you never have time to speak candidly to your loved one.
Trouble from other sources
Your loved one may also become the victim of financial abuse from those outside the home, such as telemarketing scams, bogus home repairs and deceitful contractors. Once your loved one has the reputation for being an easy mark, others may try to exploit the situation.
The laws of Texas require you to report to Texas Department of Family and Protective Services if you believe your loved one is suffering from abuse or exploitation. By contacting a legal advocate, you will have an ally to help you support your loved one and seek to recoup any losses he or she may have suffered.