Protect Your Pocketbook - Eldercare Locator

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Protect YourPocketbookTips to Avoid Financial Exploitation1 (800)

Often occurring in the form of scams and identity theft, financial exploitation is an all-toocommon form of elder abuse that is believed to cost older adults an estimated 3 billionannually, having a significant impact on their well-being and quality of life—and that ofour communities as well. Financial exploitation is both a social and economic issue: it can createlegal costs and can lead to social isolation, which reduces the engagement of older adults incommunity activities. However, there are steps that older adults—and their caregivers—can taketo prevent or reduce the risk of financial exploitation.What is FinancialExploitation?Financial exploitation is the illegal or improperuse of an older adult’s money, property orassets, and can be committed by a knownand trusted individual or a complete stranger.In other words, financial exploitation can becommitted by anyone with access to a person’sfinancial information.The Federal Trade Commission reports thatimposter scams and identity theft are amongthe most common types of scams. Imposterscams occur when a person pretends to be afriend, family member, or representative from abusiness or the federal government, and claimsthat they need money or personal informationin order to avoid an emergency or other direcircumstance. Identity theft occurs whenfinancial or other personal information is usedfor financial gain without the owner’s consent.Risk FactorsWhile financial exploitation can happen toanyone, older adults may find themselves moreat risk if they: Are socially isolated; Rely on family members or friends to handletheir finances; Have difficulty understanding their finances;or Recently lost a spouse or loved one whohandled household finances.

Signs of FinancialExploitationIn order to prevent financial exploitation, it isimportant to recognize the following warningsigns that may help older adults or caregiversrecognize financial exploitation. Unexplained or odd financial activity.Any unexplained financial activity or financialactivity that exceeds financial resources.Examples include increased or unexplainedcredit card activity or ATM withdrawals,and the addition of authorized users toany financial accounts without the owner’sknowledge or consent. Threats. If a family member, friend orcaregiver threatens an older adult with harm,neglect or abandonment if certain actionsaren’t taken. Threats may include a caregiveror beneficiary’s refusal to use funds fornecessary care and treatment; an attemptto remove an individual from their home;or denied access to friends, family or otherresources. Manipulation. If a family member, friendor caregiver asks an older adult to take onfinancial responsibilities without regard tothe needs of the older adult. Changes without consent or notification.Any changes to credit cards, property titles,deeds, mortgages, Powers of Attorney,wills, trusts or other documents withoutauthorization.What to Do If You SuspectFinancial ExploitationFinancial exploitation of older adults is oftenundetected and under-reported. As withother forms of abuse, older adults who haveexperienced abuse tend to blame themselves.If you observe any of the signs mentionedabove and are concerned that you, a familymember or friend is experiencing financialexploitation, taking the following actions canhelp identify and stop financial abuse in itstracks. Contact 911. If it appears that an older adultis in immediate danger due to suspectedabuse, contact the police right away. Contact Adult Protective Services. Eachstate’s Adult Protective Services office hasthe authority to conduct an investigation ofany suspected cases of elder abuse.

Talk to the person you suspect is beingabused. The National Center on ElderAbuse recommends asking if elder abusehas occurred, whether the older adult isafraid of anyone or if they are being harmedby anyone. It is important to remind themthat abuse is not their fault.Reporting any type of abuse can beintimidating, especially when a friendor family member might be involved.Nevertheless, it is important to rememberthat financial exploitation is a crime. Call the Eldercare Locator. The EldercareLocator’s trained staff can connect olderadults and concerned caregivers with localreporting organizations in their communities. Visit This website,maintained by the Federal Trade Commission,allows consumers to report identity theft, helpsthem develop a personal plan and providesfact sheets and other resources to help themrecover from identity theft. Contact the Long-Term Care Ombudsman.For older adults residing in a licensednursing home or assisted living facility, astate or local Long-Term Care Ombudsmanwill act as an advocate for suspected victimsof elder abuse and can provide informationabout the appropriate licensing, monitoringand regulatory agencies.Ways to PreventFinancial ExploitationTaking the following steps may reduce thelikelihood that older adults will experiencefinancial exploitation. Consult a financial advisor or manager.If managing your daily finances is difficult,consider working with a trusted financialadvisor or money manager. It may alsobe helpful to consult a financial advisorwhen reviewing or signing any importantdocuments and when making largepurchases or investments. Create an estate plan. Having a plan for thefuture—financial and otherwise—may reducethe likelihood that you experience financialexploitation. Work with a trusted attorney tocreate any of the following documents. Notethat the documents needed may vary basedon an individual’s unique circumstances.– Durable power of attorney for assetor financial management. This legaldocument allows you to name a personyou trust to make asset/financialmanagement decisions on your behalf inthe event you become unable to do so.– A living will, living trust, revocable trust orhealth care advance directive.

Sign up for the National Do Not CallRegistry. Visit www.DoNotCall.govor call 1 (888) 382-1222 to sign up toprevent unwanted telemarketing calls.Unfortunately, scammers and telemarketersare unlikely to honor the do-not-calllaws, so be vigilant and do not share anypersonal financial information with unknownor unwanted callers. Keep personal information private.Do not share private or financial informationwith anyone you do not know or trust.Keep personal information in a safe andsecure location that unauthorized individualscannot access. Never provide personal information overthe phone, via email or text message.Do not provide personal information (suchas your Social Security number, credit cardinformation, ATM PIN, passwords) over thephone, email or text message unless you arecertain with whom you are speaking. Dispose of sensitive documents properly.Shredding is the most secure way to disposeof credit card receipts, bank statements,financial records and other importantdocuments. Build a strong support network. Keepin touch with others. Social isolation canincrease the chances that an older adult willexperience financial exploitation and thelikelihood of it going unnoticed. Talk with others and educate ourcommunities. The Federal TradeCommission’s Pass It On program( gives olderadults the tools they need to share theirexperiences and help prevent financialexploitation.

RESOURCESEldercare Locator1 (800) 677-1116Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. in 1991, the Eldercare Locator is the only national information and referral resource to providesupport to consumers across the spectrum of issues affecting older Americans. The Locator was establishedand is funded by the U.S. Administration on Aging, part of Administration for Community Living, and isadministered by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a).Adult Protective eaAdult Protective Services (APS) is a social services program provided by states and local governments forolder adults and adults with disabilities who are in need of assistance. APS investigates cases of abuse,neglect or exploitation, working closely with a variety of allied professionals such as physicians, nurses,paramedics, firefighters and law enforcement officers. Each state has its own distinct APS system andprograms vary from state to state in respect to populations served, services provided and scope.Elder Justice project of the U.S. Department of Justice, the mission of the Elder Justice Initiative is to support andcoordinate the Justice Department’s enforcement and programmatic efforts to combat elder abuse,neglect and financial fraud and scams that target older adults.National Center on Elder Abusewww.ncea.acl.govFirst established by the U.S. Administration on Aging in 1988, NCEA provides the latest informationregarding research, training, best practices, news and resources on elder abuse, neglect and exploitation toprofessionals and the public.Ageless Alliancewww.agelessalliance.orgAgeless Alliance works collaboratively with partners to create national and international campaigns toexpand public understanding and generate movement on elder abuse.National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center(202) helpLong-term care ombudsmen are advocates for residents of nursing homes, board and care homes, andassisted living facilities in every state. Ombudsmen provide information about how to find a long-term carefacility and how to ensure quality care, and are trained to resolve problems and assist with complaints. Ifyou want, the ombudsman can assist you with complaints about abuse or neglect.This project was supported, in part, by grant number 901R0002, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living,Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, DC 20201. Grantees undertaking projects under governmentsponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore,necessarily represent official Administration for Community Living policy.

Financial Exploitation . Taking the following steps may reduce the . likelihood that older adults will experience financial exploitation. Consult a financial advisor or manager. If managing your daily finances is difficult, consider working with a trusted financial advisor or money manager. It may also b

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