Financial Abuse and Exploitation is on the rise. It comes in many forms. The most common victims are our aging loved ones. A great tool to help you and your loved ones protect themselves is the AARP Guide for Families.
I was able to sit down and speak with Angela Baker, an attorney and certified financial planner with West Financial Services in McLean, VA. Anyone can be a victim of financial abuse or exploitation. However, the elderly, and especially women, are most likely to fall victim to this growing danger.
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What is Financial Abuse?
Financial abuse and exploitation is when one person takes or misuses another persons personal assets without permission. Generally, this occurs without the victim’s knowledge. Additionally, it can result in significant losses for the victim. For more information about elder abuse, click HERE.
Anyone can be a victim, though it seems that the elderly, and most frequently, older women fall victim the most. This is because perpetrators usually seek out those that live alone and are more secluded from others.
Most Common Forms of Financial Scams and How to Reduce Risk of Falling Victim
There are many forms of financial abuse and exploitation. The most common scams that people fall victim to are generally phone calls such as someone pretending to be from the IRS. Some other scams are romance scams, grandparent scams and advanced fee scams.
While strangers do victimize the elderly, more commonly it can be family, friends or caregivers. To help protect important personal documents a lockbox or small safe in the home can be used. This keeps others from gaining access to anything that they may be able to use to exploit your loved ones finances.
Another great way for your aging loved one to protect themselves and help to reduce the risk of falling victim to financial abuse is for them to have a conversation with their family and set up a trust and/or financial power of attorney. This should be someone that is trusted and well known to them. Having a plan set in place prior to a crisis, accident or change in capacity to handle finances would be the most helpful.