AARP Idaho: Watch Out For Elder Financial Abuse

Sep 28, 2011, 16:59 ET from AARP Idaho

AARP Provides Tips to Help People Recognize the Signs, Fight Back & Avoid Becoming the Next Victim

BOISE, Idaho, Sept. 28, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With news of an elderly couple in Boise being alleged victims of financial abuse at the hands of their caregiver, AARP is cautioning Idahoans to be on the lookout for the crime, particularly during difficult financial times.  The Association is providing warning signs to recognize financial abuse and tips to avoid falling prey to the crime.

About one million older Americans fall victim to elder financial abuse annually, losing an estimated $2.6 billion.  Most often the crime is committed by family members or caregivers (in 55% of all reported cases, according to MetLife study), as is suspected in the Boise case.  It's estimated that at least one in 10 elderly are exploited financially, according to the Elder Financial Protection Network.

Warning Signs:

  • Unexplained bank withdrawals.
  • Unauthorized use of a credit or ATM card.
  • Stolen or "misplaced" cards or checkbook.
  • Checks written as "cash," "loan" or "gift."
  • Abrupt changes in a will or other documents.
  • Unexplained transfer of assets to a family member or someone outside the family.
  • Disappearance of valuables.
  • Sudden appearance of a previously uninvolved relative claiming a right to an elder's affairs or possessions.
  • New signers on accounts.

Protect Yourself:

  • Check references and credentials before hiring anyone and don't allow workers to have access to information about your finances.
  • Limit the power of attorney.
  • Get to know your banker, they can look out for suspicious activity related to your account.
  • Attempt to avoid becoming isolated, staying in contact with neighbors, family and friends.
  • Don't sign blank checks that would allow another person to fill in the amounts.
  • Don't sign anything that you don't understand.
  • Never rush into a financial decision, ask for details in writing and get a second opinion.
  • Pay with checks or credit cards to keep a paper trail.

Get Help:

If you suspect that you, a loved one or an elderly neighbor are a victim of financial abuse, tell someone immediately.  Financial abusers count on silence to continue their crimes.  

  • In Idaho, call 2-1-1 to report financial abuse or to get connected with resources.
  • Don't be afraid to call your local police department if you strongly suspect financial abuse.

More information on elder financial abuse can be on AARP's website:

And from the Elder Financial Protection Network:

AARP is Idaho's largest membership organization with over 180,000 members.

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