One of the most underreported forms of elder abuse in Massachusetts is financial exploitation. Your loved ones spent their lives building their lives and assets. Do not let someone take advantage of them by scamming them out of their life’s work.

The Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs’ found that elder abuse cases are increasing. One of the worst forms is financial exploitation.

What is considered financial exploitation?

Abusers often take advantage of vulnerable people by stealing from them or cheating them out of their assets.

It comes in many forms, including:

  • Abusive debt collection practices
  • Deceptive/unfair business practices
  • Identity theft
  • Misappropriation of property
  • Theft
  • Unauthorized use of credit cards
  • Undue influence

Financial exploitation can be damaging to the people you care about

Elder financial exploitation is defined as an act by someone that “causes a substantial monetary or property loss to an elderly person.” It can also cause substantial monetary or property gains to someone other than the elderly person.

The National Council on Aging reports that financial exploitation costs seniors from almost $3 billion to over $36 billion annually. Abusers can come from new acquaintances, over the phone, via the internet or from family members.

Warning signs include:

  • Account statements that are not going to your loved one’s home
  • Caretakers, relatives or friends who begin conducting financial transactions on behalf of an older person without proper documentation.
  • New, unexplained joint accounts or Powers of Attorney
  • Unpaid bills or insufficient fund notifications
  • Unusual ATM, bank account or credit card activity

You can protect your loved ones against financial exploitation

If you notice any unusual financial activity, talk to your loved one. Find out if they can explain the irregularities. Report unexplained activities immediately.