Four Ways to Respond to Financial Elder Abuse

Financial elder abuse is the fraudulent or otherwise illegal, unauthorized, or improper act of exploiting the resources of an elder for monetary or personal benefit, profit, or gain. With one in nine older Americans experiencing abuse, it can be helpful to know how to appropriately react and respond to any adverse situations. If you or an elderly person you know ever experience abuse, here are four ways to proceed:

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Speak to Your Credit Union

If you experience or suspect any financial elder abuse, your local credit union is a great place to reach out to. For years, Maine credit unions have been leaders in working to prevent financial exploitation of the elderly through training, awareness, and advocacy. Several years ago, the Maine Credit Union League was a founding member of a group that launched a new initiative called Senior$afe. This initiative and training program helps Maine’s elderly protect their finances. As a result, your credit union can both spot potential abuse and is prepared to take action if any is detected.

Call Emergency Services

While many forms of financial elder abuse are slow and methodical, others can be quick, intimidating, and dangerous. In lieu of internet fraud, investment schemes, or telemarketing scams, an abuser may threaten a senior citizen for monetary benefit or attempt to physically rob them. If you or someone you know are ever in immediate danger, dial 911.

Reach Out to Your Local Area Agency on Aging

Maine has five Area Agencies on Aging, which are non-profit organizations that serve as great sources of information for Maine seniors. Along with a number of programs and services designed to improve the physical, social, and emotional well-being of the elderly, they continuously work to provide economic security. You can reach out for tips on prevention, or for help, in the event you or someone you know becomes a victim of financial elder abuse.

Complete an FTC Identity Theft Report

Identity theft leaves victims feeling vulnerable, violated, and frustrated. As the older generations can be more trusting, they are often susceptible to this imposing form of abuse. Filling out the Federal Trade Commission’s identity theft affidavit can help victims with the recovery process. Not only does it help document the incident, but it can help the victim avoid liability for debt sustained from the fraudulent activity. As it serves as a sworn, written statement, the FTC will work with the victim on a recovery plan, walking them through each step to ensure the best outcome.

Article by Jake Holmes, Maine Credit Union League