What is financial exploitation?
Financial exploitation comes in several shapes and forms, but common to all types of financial exploitation is the intention to harm or defraud a victim in order to benefit financially from their loss. Increasingly, financial exploiters have targeted senior citizens and the elderly to achieve their goals by way of deception.
What are some examples of financial exploitation?
One of the top causes of elder financial exploitation in Oakland and the Bay Area is annuities fraud. Annuities are complex financial investments that demand a premium and promise a pay-out over time, but usually contain many complicated stipulations and hidden charges that can ultimately drain the annuitant’s finances. While banks and insurance companies portray annuities as appealing investments that promise high returns, most annuities are inappropriate for elderly people, especially those who have invested in an IRA or similar retirement plan. All too often, annuities companies and their salespeople use unscrupulous conduct and methodology to push sales of annuities on unsuspecting senior citizens who suffer from the consequences.
Other examples of financial exploitation are caregiver abuse or power of attorney abuse, whereby individuals who somehow gain access to an elder’s finances commit fraud or theft by using those finances to their own advantage.
Why are seniors at risk?
Seniors in California and across the nation are at risk for financial exploitation because of their perceived economic stability and general trustworthiness. Seniors tend to be prime candidates for identity theft because they may not be as technologically savvy as the rest of the population, and thus are thought to overlook important signs of identity theft. Elderly people are additionally targeted if they live alone or are dependent on caregivers and advisors. Unfortunately, some of the most rampant and egregious instances of elder financial abuse and exploitation come from caregivers and other trusted acquaintances.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 San Francisco at 415-441-8669 or 888-891-4906.
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