Preventing Elder Financial Abuse


Stop-Elder-AbuseThe Commonwealth of Pennsylvania ranks fourth for states with a high percentage of elderly residents. This year will bring more instances of elder financial abuse, with annual losses expected to approach $3 billion.

Senior citizens are favored targets for many types of fraud and scams including those related to identity theft, telemarketing, charitable donations, the lottery, investments, utilities and home repairs. It often goes hand-in-hand with other types of abuse and neglect such as verbal/ emotional abuse, physical abuse and neglect of care. The financial, verbal and emotional abuse of actor Mickey Rooney from a few years ago certainly raised awareness that anyone could be a victim. Cases like this commonly involve a trusted person in the elderly person’s life such as a caretaker, family member, neighbor, friend, nurse or even pastor.

The Pennsylvania House Aging & Older Adult Service Committee has been actively reviewing proposed language to ensure older Pennsylvanians are afforded the maximum protections from abuse, neglect, exploitation and abandonment. If you have any of the following concerns, you may be vulnerable to financial abuse:

  • You don’t understand the financial decisions that someone else is making for you.
  • You have trouble paying bills because the bills are confusing to you.
  • You are pressured by your children or others to give them money.
  • You don’t feel confident making big financial decisions alone.
  • You find yourself giving loans or gifts for more than you can afford.

Be particularly aware that significant abuse may easily occur through a power of attorney, so choose your agent wisely. If you don’t have a close family member or friend that you trust to manage your finances, you should consider asking a trusted financial advisor, attorney or accountant.

If you’re concerned about protecting a loved one, make sure to speak with and visit them regularly. Pay attention to the relationships  that your loved one has with family members, neighbors, aids, and others. If he or she is frequently going to the credit union or bank with another person, find out the reasons for these trips.

If you feel that you are a victim of financial elder abuse, our Loss Prevention Team is here to help you. Please contact us at (800) 283-2328, ext. 5202. It’s also important to report your concerns to the Department of Aging. Call the Pennsylvania Elder Abuse Hotline at (800) 490-8505 or visit www.aging.state.pa.us.

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Guest Blogger: Frank Serina, VP of Risk Management/Security Services (reprinted from the July/August 2014 edition of Avenues)

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