No one likes to think about their elders being taken advantage of, but unfortunately, it happens all too often. Scammers, including loved ones, will target elders in an attempt to steal their hard-earned money, and one of the most common ways they do this is by making unauthorized withdrawals from their bank accounts. Roughly over one hundred thousand elderly lost a collective of over nine hundred million dollars to fraud.
If you notice unexplained withdrawals from your elder’s bank account, it’s essential to take action immediately. Here are five steps to take if you suspect elder financial abuse.
The first step is gathering as much information as possible about unauthorized withdrawals. For instance, you’ll want to know how much money was taken out, when the withdrawals occurred, and whether there are any patterns. This information will be helpful when you contact the bank and file a police report (if necessary).
This will also be helpful in case you need to file an insurance claim. Many homeowners’ and renter’s insurance policies cover financial losses due to theft, so it’s worth checking to see if your elder is covered.
You’ll need to look at your elder’s bank statements to gather information. You can usually view them online if they don’t have paper statements. Also, you may want to set up account alerts so that you’re notified anytime there is a withdrawal from the account.
Contact the Bank
Once you have all the information, the next step is to contact the bank. Explain what happened and ask them to reverse the unauthorized withdrawals. In most cases, they may be able to refund the money withdrawn or stop future unauthorized transactions. They will also be able to tell you if there is anything else you need to do, such as closing the account and opening a new one.
If the bank cannot help you, or if you’re not happy with the bank’s response and support, you can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or a police report. Be sure to bring all the information you gathered in step one when you file the report.
File a Police Report
If you suspect your elder has been the victim of elder financial abuse, you should file a police report. This is especially important if you know who made the unauthorized withdrawals from their bank account.
Filing a police report will help document what happened and could potentially lead to the perpetrator’s arrest. It will also give you a sense of closure and help you move on from the incident.
In order to file a police report, you’ll need to contact your local police department or the sheriff’s office. You can usually do this online or in person.
Hire a Conservatorship Attorney
If your elder is the victim of financial abuse by someone appointed to care for their finances, you may consider hiring a conservatorship attorney. The attorney can contest conservatorship, meaning they can fight to overturn the arrangement. For instance, suppose your elder has been duped of their finances by their conservator. In this case, the conservatorship attorney could file a petition to have the conservatorship arrangement overturned.
Conservatorship attorneys can also help you if you’re concerned about your elder’s finances but don’t necessarily want to contest the conservatorship arrangement. For instance, the attorney can help you review your elder’s financial records to ensure everything is in order. They can also help you file a police report or take other necessary legal action.
If you decide to hire an attorney, ask about their experience handling elder financial abuse cases. You should also ask about their fees and whether they offer a free consultation.
Finally, it’s important to get support for yourself and your elder. Elder financial abuse can be difficult to deal with, and it can take a toll on your emotional well-being.
If you need support, several organizations offer help to victims of elder financial abuse. These organizations can provide you with information, resources, and emotional support.
Organizations that offer help for victims of elder financial abuse include:
- National Center on Elder Abuse
- Senior Fraud Prevention
- National Adult Protective Services Association
- American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging
- Eldercare Locator
These organizations can help you get the support you need to deal with the aftermath of elder financial abuse.
Financial abuse of elders is a serious problem, but it’s one that you can do something about. If you suspect your elder is the victim of financial abuse, take action to stop it and get them the help they need.