Financial elder abuse is the improper exploitation of an elderly person’s money or property, and it is a crime that is often committed by a caregiver or another person in a position of trust. As people age, they often become dependent on other people for their care, including the need for assistance with finances. This can put elders in a uniquely vulnerable position . Often, they have accumulated substantial property, but it is hard for them to defend themselves against force or even deception and persuasion.
Examples of financial elder abuse include:
- Stealing money or property;
- Forging an older person’s signature to cash a check or complete an unauthorized financial transaction;
- Persuading or tricking an elder into buying things they don’t need (but the abuser wants), like a vehicle;
- A caregiver using the position of having power of attorney to make unauthorized or harmful financial decisions; and
- Telemarketing fraud or identity theft.
Sometimes, a person who is the victim of financial elder abuse will come right out and report the abuse. More often than not, however, the victim feels intimidated or ashamed of the abuse – or is unaware that anything is wrong. That is why it is important to know the signs of this type of abuse:
- An elderly person living a lifestyle that is far below their means – especially if a sudden change in lifestyle occurs;
- The disappearance of money or possessions;
- Sudden changes in bank account balances; and
- A sudden and out-of-character change to a Will.
Financial abuse thrives in situations where an elderly person is isolated. For this reason, it is a good idea to help any elders in your life to maintain a strong support system. This can be through having as many family members as possible involved in the elder’s life, or through encouraging your loved one to stay involved in church or community groups. The more caring, watchful eyes are around, the less likely an elderly person is to be exploited.
If you have reasonable cause to believe that an elderly person is the victim of financial abuse in Nevada, please report the incident to Elder Protective Services at 775-687-4210.