What to Do About Elder Financial Abuse

You may have a relative being cared for in their home by a person assigned by an agency or by another relative. However, there are signs that something fishy may be going on. That nephew may suddenly have a new car with no visible means of affording it. He may be the type of person who can’t keep a job or afford a place to live, and suddenly moves in with Grandma to “help.” What can you do?

Financial abuse of the elderly is not uncommon. The problem is that much of it is hard for others to spot unless that person has the means to check on the elderly person’s finances, such as permission to view bank statements and other financial documents. Often, abuse is not even suspected until the elderly person passes away, and relatives discover that surprising changes were made in the person’s will very late in life.

Of course, there are many unscrupulous people who prey on the elderly. Phone, mail and e-mail scams are common, often frightening the elderly into sending money or gift cards to supposed government officials or agencies to pay fines or penalties they knew nothing about. Many are fooled into ordering useless products so that the scammers can get the victim’s credit card information. Fraudulent investment schemes are unfortunately common. Elderly people are too often prey to those who call, claiming that their computer has a virus, and the caller needs access to fix it. The access allows the scammer to glean all sorts of personal information while connected.

However, the threat of financial abuse is just as likely to come from family members. A person with a substance abuse problem may convince an elderly relative to let them move in, with subsequent theft of funds or valuable items able to be pawned disappearing as a result. A relative can convince an elderly person to “lend” them money for their business or get-rich-quick scheme, or convince the person to sign over funds or property or change their will in exchange for their “care.” Sometimes the elderly person will be threatened if he or she doesn’t cooperate, and the younger relative may limit visitors to keep things secret.

Even hired caregivers or housekeepers stoop to these tactics. Caregivers may use drugs to keep the elderly person from being alert and seeing what’s going on. This also makes it easier to convince other relatives that the victim’s mind isn’t what it used to be and that he or she imagines things and is getting paranoid.

Fortunately, there are many laws concerning California elder financial abuse. If you suspect that a relative is being cheated or stolen from, especially in the Los Angeles area, contact stonesalluslaw to discover what can be done.