Isolation Is Breeding Ground For Financial Abuse
Unauthorized ATM Withdrawals Make Up Greatest Percentage Of Losses
Helping Isolated Seniors
Throughout the United States and here in California and Santa Cruz County, incidents of financial elder abuse have skyrocketed as a result of the isolation of seniors, and the economic stress, of the COVID-19 pandemic. Reports indicate that financial elder abuse is up from 50-100% both in number of cases and in the severity of cases. The problem is in all likelihood far greater than even the reported numbers suggest as some analysts believe only one in close to 40 cases ever comes to light. The economic consequences are devastating both in over-all losses and, more importantly, in the effect on individual lives. We all need to do something to help seniors suffering from these alarming levels of abuse. The financial elder abuse attorneys at Evans Law Firm, Inc. represent injured seniors and their families in Santa Cruz County and throughout California. If you need help, call us today at (415)441-8669.
Statistics Show Alarming Increases In Financial Elder Abuse
Statistics reveal that the victims of financial elder abuse most often are women and the average age of all victims, male and female is 79. The numbers also show that the older the victim, the more severe the abuse is likely to be. Recent findings also show the following:
- In 80% of the cases, the perpetrators of the fraud were caregivers or relatives;
- In 42% of the cases, the fraud was committed by adult children of the victims and in 10% of the cases, the perpetrators were adult grandchildren;
- Close to half of the victims, 43%, lived alone;
- The average lost in the cases studied was $39,395.
- Cash withdrawals constituted the largest percentage of total loss, with more than $5 million or 46% of the total sampled cases lost to withdrawals via ATMs;
- Debit card use and forged checks constitute the next highest categories of financial abuse; and
- Bank overdraft fees created by financial elder abuse are discovered in a vast majority of reported cases with an average loss of $1000 in bank fees alone.
Dementia patients suffer the most, according to reports. Older persons with dementia can be more vulnerable to abuse as they may struggle to discuss their feelings and experiences or remember what happened to them. Dementia can also make it harder to detect abuse. Common reactions to abuse, such as withdrawal from communication, can also be symptoms of dementia.
Protecting Seniors And Seeking Justice
Active involvement in a senior’s life is the surest way to protect them from financial exploitation. While physical contact has become dangerous during the pandemic, families and friends can use Facetime and Zoom to stay in touch; even an old-fashioned phone call every day may alert you to what’s going on in a senior’s life. You can easily monitor bank and credit card activity online. If your older loved one has in-home assistance, always vet the individual (and their agency) before they ever come inside. If the caregiver is coming to you through an agency, check out the agency’s track record too. Our litigators have seen agencies that do very little to vet their own aides, and that can be a real problem. Once a caregiver is in the home, keep valuables locked up and do not have cash, credit cards or confidential information near at hand. Call your loved on frequently and speak to them alone; tell them to take your call privately and out of earshot of the caregiver. The senior may be intimidated to speak candidly in front of someone they fear. Never ever let a senior give a caregiver a Power of Attorney.
If you live here in Santa Cruz County or elsewhere in California and suspect any kind of abuse of a senior loved one, call Ingrid M. Evans and our other elder abuse attorneys today. Ingrid and our other elder abuse attorneys can be reached at (415) 441-8669, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Ingrid and her team of financial elder abuse attorneys will pursue all remedies available to you or your injured senior loved one including getting stolen money back (restitution), undoing any trusts or contracts the abuser may have fraudulently created (rescissions), damages for pain and suffering, and an award of the attorneys’ fees and expenses you’ve incurred in bringing your case.