Contra Costa County Financial Elder Abuse
Financial elder abuse is one of the most common forms of abuse suffered by seniors. The National Council on Aging estimates that financial fraud and abuse cost American seniors between $2.9 billion and $36.5 billion each year. Anyone can perpetrate this type of abuse, from family members to healthcare professionals to unscrupulous businesspeople. The Contra Costa County financial elder abuse attorneys at Evans Law are experts at investigating fraud committed against seniors and holding the perpetrators responsible.
Below, we will explain some common financial elder abuse scenarios and how you can protect your elderly family members from them.
Types of Financial Elder Abuse
Financial elder abuse takes many forms, but some of the most common that we see are:
- Theft of property: Theft of property is the physical taking of a senior’s property, including cash. It often occurs in residential settings in which family members have access to the senior’s home or in institutional settings where professional caregivers can enter the senior’s room while they are away. The theft may occur under a Power of Attorney executed by a senior. Never ever grant a Power of Attorney to a caregiver.
- Securities fraud: Unscrupulous financial advisors or scammers posing as financial advisors take advantage of seniors by selling them inappropriate insurance products like annuities, pushing them to make risky investments based on false or misleading information, such as high-yield investments, Ponzi/pyramid schemes, and certain multi-level marketing strategies.
- Insurance and Medicare fraud: Insurance and Medicare fraud is very common, since all citizens and permanent residents in the US over the age of 65 qualify for Medicare. In a typical insurance or Medicare fraud, the perpetrator will pose as a Medicare representative to induce the recipient to divulge personal financial information. The perpetrator will then bill Medicare and keep the money.
- Forgery: Forgery occurs when the perpetrator produces a counterfeit document or makes unauthorized changes to a legitimate document. It can cause great financial harm to seniors, such as when their caregivers forge checks in their name or trick them into signing a forged will or other estate planning document.
- Identity theft: This type of fraud occurs when the perpetrator uses the senior’s name, social security number, or other personal information to open lines of credit or obtain other financial benefits, usually to the great detriment of the victim.
Protecting Seniors From Financial Elder Abuse
Because seniors are a vulnerable population, the law looks very disfavorably on those who take advantage of or abuse them. In addition to providing both civil and criminal penalties for elder abuse of all varieties, California law also allows for treble damages in financial elder abuse cases that involve unfair or deceptive practices or unfair methods of competition. A few steps that you can take to protect someone you care about from financial elder abuse include:
- Becoming familiar with their financial information and estate plans
- Reviewing important financial and legal documents regularly to check for unauthorized changes
- Educating them about scams that target seniors and how to keep their personal information safe
- Advising them not to make any investments before consulting you, a licensed financial advisor, or an attorney
- Granting financial power of attorney to a person you both trust and never a caregiver.
Contact a Contra Costa County Financial Elder Abuse Attorney
If you suspect that someone you love is a victim of financial elder abuse or at risk of becoming a victim, you should act swiftly to preserve their financial wellbeing to the greatest extent possible. For more information about financial elder abuse, including how to identify it and pursue legal claims against responsible parties, contact the Contra Costa County financial elder abuse attorneys at the Evans Law Firm by calling 415-441-8669.