If you believe an elder is being abused, you should immediately report the abuse to the Executive Office of Elder Affairs at (800) 922-2275.
Elder financial exploitation is the improper or illegal use of an elder's finances through deceit, coercion, or some other undue influence. You can prevent this exploitation by understanding how elders are sometimes taken advantage of.
Recognizing financial exploitation
Some examples of financial exploitation of elders include:
- Someone cashing your checks without permission or authorization
- Someone forging your signature on a financial document
- Someone misusing or stealing your money or possessions
- Fake awards or gifts that promise a large payout if you send money immediately or frequently over many weeks or months
- Offers made online or over the phone where you are asked for detailed personal information
- Unreasonable transfers of real estate
- Misuse of Power of Attorney duties
- Wealth-draining by debt collectors
Look out for signs that someone may be attempting to exploit you financially. Some common signs include:
- A friend or family member frequently asking you to buying things that they want or claim to need
- Checking and saving accounts frequently being overdrawn or showing suspicious activity
- Large payments being made to companies that are in other states or that you don’t recognize
- Friends or family members frequently borrowing money from you and then forgetting to repay you
- Email, phone calls, and mail advertising contests, sweepstakes, and deals that sound too good to be true.
Preventing financial exploitation
You can take proactive steps to help prevent financial exploitation.
Elders should stay active, socialize with family and friends, and avoid isolating themselves. By monitoring your debit and credit statements, you can spot transactions that you did not authorize. It's important that you keep legal documents in a safe place, protect your passwords and PINs, and only share financial information with people you trust.
If you are asked to send money or give out your information to someone you don't know, check with a trusted friend or family member first. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
For more information on identity theft, charity scams, home improvement scams, telemarketing and unwanted phone calls or emails, and more, read the Attorney General's Savvy Senior Guide.
If you have questions about wills and probate, the Massachusetts Courts can provide more information, including relevant laws and guides.