What is financial exploitation?
Financial exploitation can be described as the dishonest misdirecting or attempt to misdirect funds and finances from one person by another. In Los Angeles and throughout California today, perpetrators of financial exploitation are increasingly targeting the elderly using a variety of scams and fraud, including but not limited to those related to identity theft, forgery, and insurance, Medicare or Medicaid fraud.
What are some examples of financial exploitation?
One example of financial exploitation in Los Angeles today is caregiver abuse. Caregiver abuse can occur when an unlicensed individual promises to provide care to an elder in exchange for funds, but does not follow through on that promise. It can also occur when a licensed or unlicensed caregiver neglects, harms, or steals from the individual for whom they allegedly care.
Another example of financial elder abuse or exploitation takes the form of annuities fraud, whereby insurance companies and salespeople attempt to sell largely inappropriate and expensive annuities to the elderly, often taking significant commissions and leaving the elder with limited access to his or her finances.
Other examples of elderly financial exploitation are: unfair or misleading home equity agreements, bank fraud, consumer fraud, and Power of Attorney abuse.
Why are seniors at risk?
The vulnerability of senior citizens to financial exploitation has become a vicious cycle. Because seniors are often financially well-off, reliant on others, and appear to be trusting of purportedly well-intentioned individuals, scammers and abusers increasingly view seniors as “easy targets” for financial exploitation. As a result, more and more seniors are being targeted by scammers who develop complex and subtle ways to carry out their fraudulent intentions.
Retirement funds are increasingly targeted by perpetrators of financial exploitation. Elderly people are also less familiar with digitized versions of financial accounts and funds, and therefore less likely to check their accounts on a regular basis. Elderly people tend to have or have had fixed incomes and are targeted by scam artists with a much higher rate than the rest of the population.
Geographic solitariness and dependence on caregivers and advisors are other factors that lead to an increased incidence of identity theft among elderly people. Unfortunately, many seniors tend to be victimized by their caregivers and other people they generally trust.
How can seniors avoid financial exploitation?
Financial exploitation is rampant, but there are important steps that seniors and their families can take to prevent and avoid financial exploitation.
- Protect your assets: Plan ahead and ensure that you have control over what happens to your finances and assets in the future. Talk to a trusted attorney or financial advisor about your options; and consider reliable estate planning services.
- Be wary of telemarketers: Never give personal information to anybody who contacts you over the phone. Telemarketers or phone scammers may try to convince you of their legitimacy by alleging there is a problem with your current finances, but do not trust or give any information to people who contact you over the phone.
- Never pay fees or taxes to collect sweepstakes or lottery “winnings.”
- Do not rush into financial decisions. Take your time, consider all your options, and consult with credentialed advisors you trust.
- Do not sign any documents you do not completely understand. Make sure you read any document in full before committing to its terms.
- Build a relationship with your bankers and financial advisors to ensure they will look out for your financial safety and wellbeing.
- Check references and credentials before you hire any caretaker or assistant who may gain access to your private information. Do not allow workers to have access to any of your personal or financial information.
- Keep records of payments you make with checks and credit cards so that you have a paper trail of your financial transactions. Make sure you check your bank statements regularly to ensure that no unauthorized payments or transactions are being made on your behalf.
What should I do if I believe I have been the victim of financial exploitation?
How to report elder abuse:
The most important thing you can do if you believe you or your loved one has been the victim of financial exploitation is to ask for help. There are several resources in place to help victims of financial exploitation.
The Evans Law Firm specializes in elder abuse litigation in California. If you believe that you or a loved one have been the victim of financial exploitation, contact the lawyers at the Evans Law Firm toll free at 1-888-50EVANS for a free and confidential consultation, or email email@example.com
If you suspect a scam or fraudulent behavior related to annuity or insurance policies, contact the Department of Insurance to report it immediately. To report fraud in California, call 1-800-927-HELP.
You can also contact the Adult Protective Services of Los Angeles at 415-441-8669.
If you believe that you or a loved one have been the victim of financial exploitation, contact the lawyers at the Evans Law Firm toll free at 1-888-50EVANS for a free and confidential consultation, or email firstname.lastname@example.org