Identify Signs of Elder Financial Abuse
Credit unions and other financial institutions often can play a key role in uncovering instances of financial exploitation of the elderly.
The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has released an advisory about this type of elder abuse.
The advisory contains examples of behavior that should send up "red flags" of concern, according to the Credit Union National Association's News Now. The "red flags" are based on activity identified by various state and federal agencies and, according to FinCEN, provide a "common narrative" that will assist law enforcement in "better identifying suspected cases of financial exploitation of the elderly."
Warning signs can include erratic or unusual banking transactions, or changes in banking patterns, such as:
- Frequent large withdrawals, including daily maximum currency withdrawals from an ATM;
- Sudden nonsufficient fund activity;
- Uncharacteristic nonpayment for services, which may indicate a loss of funds or loss of access to funds;
- Debit transactions that are inconsistent for the elder;
- Uncharacteristic attempts to wire large sums of money; or,
- Closing of certificate or other accounts without regard to penalties.
Certain interactions with caregivers also can set off alarms. Suspicious behaviors include:
- A caregiver or other individual shows excessive interest in the elder's finances or assets, does not allow the elder to speak for himself or herself, or is reluctant to leave the elder's side during conversations;
- The elder shows an unusual degree of fear or submissiveness toward a caregiver, or expresses a fear of eviction or nursing home placement if money is not given to a caretaker;
- Financial institution employees are unable to speak directly with the elder, despite repeated attempts to contact him or her;
- A new caretaker, relative, or friend suddenly begins conducting financial transactions on behalf of the elder without proper documentation;
- The elder moves away from existing relationships and toward new associations with other "friends" or strangers;
- The elderly individual's financial management changes suddenly, such as through a change of power of attorney to a different family member or a new individual; or,
- The elder lacks knowledge about his or her financial status, or shows a sudden reluctance to discuss financial matters.
For more information about identifying and reporting elder financial abuse, visit the National Center on Elder Abuse.
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