Adult children often have concerns about their aging parents’ ability to manage money and take care of themselves. Even those who achieved high educational levels in their lifetime may fall prey to con artists and scammers. While it may be easier for some older folks to recognize a financial scam from a stranger, it may be more difficult to notice or accept when it comes from someone close. Some victims of financial abuse are too ashamed to admit they have been duped.
Financial abuse comes in countless forms, and it is not always easy to recognize until it is too late. Such abuse can involve outright theft of your loved one’s property or more subtle actions, like coercion, threats or fraudulent investments. It is never a good idea to assume your loved one is immune to these tactics since he or she may depend on the very people who perpetrate the abuse.
Don’t ignore these signs
Those who commit financial abuse against the elderly are commonly family members who feel entitled to your loved one’s assets. Perhaps they are giving their time to care for your loved one, or they know they will inherit the assets, so they help themselves. However, other caretakers or those who offer assistance to your loved one may take advantage of the opportunity to drain your loved one’s bank accounts, steal his or her identity, or con your loved one into changing a will, real estate deed or life insurance policy.
You may recognize any of the following signs that your loved one is a victim of financial abuse:
- Things are missing from your loved one’s home.
- Your loved one suddenly receives past-due notices or collection letters.
- Your loved one seems to have less money on which to live.
- You notice an inexplicable loss of funds from a savings or investment account.
- There are unexplained charges on your loved one’s credit card or new cards your loved one has no recollection of applying for.
You may notice disturbing changes in your loved one’s behavior as well. If your loved one is suddenly nervous, withdrawn or unusually unhappy, you should not dismiss these as indications that he or she is getting older. This are often signs of abuse, and your loved one may be feeling undue pressure, threats, violence or demands as a victim of financial exploitation.
Your next step
If you suspect your loved one is a victim of financial abuse, it is important to take action as quickly as possible. Financial exploitation can be ruinous to an elder, and you will want to employ whatever legal and financial resources are available in Louisiana to protect your loved one.