Financial Abuse of the Elderly: Wrong and Illegal
In personal injury law, we often deal with cases surrounding abuse of the elderly. This type of abuse typically comes in the form of physical and mental abuse, often occurring in old age or nursing homes, in which elderly individuals are vulnerable to mistreatment by negligent “caretakers,” etc. One area of abuse of the elderly that is commonly overlooked yet rampant is that of financial abuse, and we are going to explore this issue in this blog.
Financial abuse of the elderly is, in essence, theft. When people have reached an age and mental state in which they are dependent upon others to advise them on how to handle their lives – or even dependent on others to perform basic tasks – such people are prime targets for financial abuse that can come from a variety of directions. A clear example of how this abuse might manifest itself is in telemarketers, who call and attempt to “sell things” to a range of individuals, many of whom understanding the tricks and ploys that the telemarketers use. However, if an elderly individual answers the phone, he or she may be unaware of what is truly taking place. They will often trust the telemarketer, who appears to be friendly and interested in them, yet who might dupe them into buying fifty gadgets that they don’t need, or even worse, into investing in a fake fund, requiring the elderly individual’s credit card information. This type of solicitation of funds from elderly individuals who know not what they’re engaging in is wrong and, quite often, illegal.
Another source of financial abuse of the elderly comes in the form of supposed caregivers, and even members of the individual’s own family. A caregiver, especially one who lives with the elderly individual and is charged with assisting them with all aspects of their lives, has tremendous access to personal property of the elderly individual. Since the caregiver is often in possession of the credit card or bank account information of the individual, the caregiver has the opportunity to use the card for their own benefit, and often times this opportunity turns into occurrence. While it may not appear as theft, if the elderly individual who lives on $30,000 a year is convinced into buying a their caregiver $3,000 worth of clothing, that is financial abuse. Just because the caregiver asked for the money does not mean it is not theft, because the person being asked was not in a state that allows them to fully understand the implications of the question.
Finally, and unfortunately, financial abuse may come from an elderly individual’s own family, who may take advantage of the elder’s trust and love in pursuit of money. Family members might, like the caregiver, “force” the elder to buy them expensive things, or, for example, the might dupe the elder into buying into a seemingly wonderful business idea, only the business idea is fictional and the money ends up directly in the pocket of the crooked family member.
Financial abuse of the elderly isn’t just wrong – it is many times illegal. The law is there to protect elders from financial abuse and to give them an avenue on which to recover losses from such abuse. If you or anyone you know has experienced financial abuse of the elderly, as described herein or in other forms, please reach out to us for a free consultation at 561-266-9191 or firstname.lastname@example.org.