Senior citizens are often vulnerable to mistreatment, including financial elder abuse or financial exploitation. According to the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, the term financial elder abuse includes a broad range of treatment against senior citizens, including:
- stealing money or property
- use of property or possessions without permission
- making promises in exchange for money and not following through
- forging of signatures
- a deed, will or power of attorney that is signed under duress or undue influence
- using deception to gain trust
- scams and other deceptive acts
The legal definition of financial abuse in California can be found in the Welfare & Institutions Code § 15610.30.
Sometimes abusers are strangers, such as in the case of telemarketing scams that target the elderly. Other times, abusers are family members or close family friends. Sometimes, predatory individuals pretend to fall in love with senior citizens as part of their ploy.
In any case, the conduct is illegal and it should be stopped.
What can I do if financial elder abuse is happening?
If something in your gut tells you that a situation is not right and an elderly person is being taken advantage of, then chances are that you are right. However, it can be a delicate matter, as you never want to lose the senior's trust or isolate that person.
You should respectfully ask to know more about the person's situation to see if you can get to the bottom of what is going on. If you believe that abuse is, in fact, taking place, then you may want to meet with a lawyer who can help advise you on the law and your options in protecting this person.
Litigation may be necessary to put a stop to the abuse and recover what has been lost.