When you think of elder abuse, you might envision physical assaults like hitting or pinching. Maybe you equate it with neglect, a picture of an empty fridge and a dirty room with a grandmother with unwashed hair and soiled clothing sitting alone in it running through your mind.
You may find it surprising to learn that financial exploitation is also a form of elder abuse. Here are a few red flags that could mean your elderly family member is suffering from financial abuse.
1. Unpaid bills
If collection letters and notices for late bills start piling up in the home of your normally responsible loved one, this may indicate a need to investigate. Even if it turns out to not be financial abuse, it may be a manifestation of another problem such as dementia.
2. Unusual credit card activity
A sudden uptick in credit card usage or strange purchases may also serve as a warning signal. Changes to a card’s authorized users are also concerning since the person whose name is on the card (your loved one in this case) is responsible for all charges even if someone else racks them up.
3. Random bank withdrawals
Large, unexplained amounts of money disappearing from accounts may mean people close to elders are deceiving them into giving them funds or forging their signatures to steal from them. The same applies if you discover that someone has suddenly emptied investment accounts, as well.
Financial elder abuse may originate from many sources, including other family members, caretakers, scammers and more. There are actions that may help protect aged individuals from this, such as appointing a power of attorney.