Protecting Yourself from Financial Exploitation

Mar 10 2016

Protecting Yourself from Financial Exploitation

Financial exploitation is a crime! And unfortunately, seniors are often targets of financial crimes.

Protect Yourself:

• If you need help managing your finances ask someone you trust to act as your agent (for a power of attorney), use a daily money manager or a representative payee for Social Security benefits.

• See an attorney who specializes in Elder Law for help with estate planning.

• Receive pension or other benefits by direct deposit.

• Do not give out personal information like your Social Security or bank account numbers over the phone. (The Internal Revenue Service will never call and ask for your financial information – this is a common scam!)

• If you do not understand a document, seek help before signing.

• Tear up or shred financial documents before throwing them away.

• Check your finances and benefits often and look for warning signs of financial exploitation.

Know the Warning Signs: 

• The person helping you does not do what you ask with your money (i.e.; “forgets” to purchase items for you or won’t show you your bank statements).

• You start receiving past due statements.

• You notice unfamiliar charges to your credit cards or receive statements for credit cards or accounts you did not open.

• A caregiver asks for, demands or takes money or gifts.

Report Suspicions of Financial Exploitation:

• Assisted living communities have an obligation to help protect residents from financial exploitation. If you suspect financial exploitation of a resident in an assisted living community, there are several things you can do:

• Share your concerns with the assisted living community administrator, social worker or another staff member.

• Contact the local Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. Ombudsmen are advocates for residents in senior living facilities and are trained to resolve complaints.

• Contact the Indiana State Department of Health. The Department licenses assisted living communities.

• Contact Adult Protective Services (APS). APS investigates reports of abuse, neglect and exploitation of seniors.

• Contact your local law enforcement agency.

• Contact information for the Ombudsman, APS and the Department of Health is posted in licensed assisted living communities.

A good resource for additional information is the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA). Visit www.ncea.aoa.gov or call 1-855-500-3537.