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elder financial abuse | know the signs

(Danville, PA) - The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has the third highest percentage of elderly residents in the United States with nearly 2 million residents over the age of 65.1 One in 10 Americans age 60-plus have experienced elder abuse – and one of the most frequent forms of elder abuse is financial.2  

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is a great resource with tips to help us identify and prevent elder financial abuse. Below is a list of some “red flags” to watch for that may be signals that someone is financially abusing your loved one.3 To read the CFPB’s full Preventing Elder Financial Abuse guide click here

•   Listen for things your loved one tells you or that you observe. Are they sharing that someone is misusing or stealing their money or property? Is their checkbook, credit or debit card missing? Are they themselves becoming private or secretive? 
•    Pay attention to what you’re seeing in your loved one’s living space, if you are able to visit. Are there missing possessions, or possessions replaced with items of lesser value? Are there blank withdrawal forms or checkbooks left out in the open?
•    Is your loved one having problems with other family and friends? Is someone pressuring your loved one to make a financial decision, change a will, deed, or trust, or sign a document “now,” or threatening that unless your loved one takes some financial action, they will stop taking care of them? Are you only allowed to visit your loved one only when a certain person is present? Does a certain person often interrupt or speaks for your loved one?
•    Is your loved one having problems paying bills or managing money? Are there unpaid bills with the nursing home or assisted living community, doctor, or pharmacy, especially when your loved one should have enough money to cover their expenses?
•    Is your loved one having problems with a financial caregiver? Is someone saying they are your loved one’s financial caregiver but does not have any written proof, such as a power of attorney document signed by your loved one? 
•    Are you noticing checks, charges, and gifts? Are you noticing checks or other documents are signed when your loved one is no longer able to write? Does your loved one’s account have many checks made out to “cash,” or checks are used out of number order? Are there credit card or debit card charges for items that your loved one did not buy?

Elder financial abuse is often the hardest to detect, in part because the evil doers are often family members, friends and caregivers. It’s also important to remember to remain patient and calm when discussing this topic with your loved one.

If you suspect your loved one is a victim of elder abuse, call our Contact Center at 800.562.6049 to be directed to someone who can assist you. 

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