Learn the signs of financial abuse


by New Day Producers


Posted on March 18, 2013 at 11:00 AM

Updated Monday, Mar 18 at 12:21 PM

There are many victims during difficult financial times, and seniors are no exception. The elderly can be vulnerable to many forms of abuse and neglect, and financial abuse is one of those. Suzanne Klenk from Washington State Employees Credit Union joined Meeghan to teach us the signs of this crime and some ways to help protect our elderly friends and loved ones.

For more information about WSECU, click HERE.

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If you'd like to contact Suzanne to conduct a FREE financial workshop for your business or organization, email her: SKlenk@WSECU.org

The National Council on Aging has more resources. Click here to access their website.

Here are the topics Suzanne and Meeghan discussed on today's show:

Why are the Elderly such attractive targets?

Suzanne – Well, persons over 50 control over 70% of the nation’s wealth.   That, in and of itself is enough to make them targets.  But also, many seniors do not realize the value of their possessions, particularly homes that have appreciated over the years.  They are also likely to have disabilities that make them dependent on others for help.  Isolation, Loneliness, and estrangement from family are also high risk factors.

What are some of the indicators that someone may be taking advantage of someone we know?

Suzanne:  There are several:  Unexplained withdrawals from financial accounts or transfers between accounts that cannot be explained;  financial account statements no longer come the elder’s  home; New “Best Friends’,  caregiver expressed excessive interest in the amount of money begin spent on the older person; belongings missing; excessive gift giving to new friends; missing documents; etc.  It is important to keep in mind that indicators that signal that some sort of abuse has occurred can be explained by other causes as well and no single indicator can be taken as conclusive proof.  It is important to look for patterns or clusters of indicators that suggest a problem.

Who is doing this?

Suzanne:  Unfortunately, many times it is a family member, friend or caregiver that feels an entitlement to the elderly person’s assets and property.  But it can also be a predatory individual that specifically targets vulnerable people or an unscrupulous professional or business person.  Often these people will overcharge for services, use deceptive, unfair business practices or use their positions of trust or respect to gain compliance.

What can we do to protect our friends and family that may be a target of this terrible crime?

Suzanne – If you suspect that someone you know is a victim of financial abuse or is at risk, here are a few simple steps to help.

  1.  Have a conversation about some of the things you are noticing.  Be careful not to offend or speak in a condescending manner.  This could just reinforce the bond the person has with their abuser. 
  2. If appropriate, help the person put some protections in place with their financial institution.  At WSECU, we assist families with the process of providing appropriate security while maintaining ease and flexibility for the elderly person.
  3. The best defense is communication and preventing isolation.  Knowledge is power and keeping your elderly family and friends informed is key.