October 05, 2022 · Budget, Retirement, Savings, Security
This blog post is excerpted and adapted from one of the many free Delta Community Financial Education Center live workshops, Protecting Aging Adults from Financial Abuse, which is being presented this month and is available to both Credit Union members and the general public. Please visit the Financial Education Center's Events & Seminars page to register for its monthly, no-cost webinars with pragmatic, actionable advice on managing personal finances and learning how to avoid different types of scams and online attacks. The work of the national award-winning Financial Education Center reflects Delta Community’s mission to help both its members and others in the community achieve financial success.
Please consider attending the Financial Education Center workshop related to this post, which focuses on the state of Georgia’s elder abuse laws and dives much deeper into the very important topic of protecting older family members—such as an “at risk” parent, grandparent, or other family—and friends from financial exploitation and abuse. Financial abuse can include having an elder’s income and assets illegally controlled and stolen by someone they know and may trust, such as a child or grandchild. The workshop (and this post) also explore the signs of financial exploitation and how to address it.
Under state of Georgia laws, there are protections for persons 65 years of age or older and disabled adults ages 18 and older who are mentally or physically incapacitated or who have Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, and residents of long-term care facilities. The state defines exploitation as “Taking away property or money by undue influence, force, threat or deceit; misuse of financial resources for another's gain; taking a Social Security check without consent; having a power of attorney document or other documents signed without the victim knowing what he or she is signing; forging a signature; offering a “prize” that the victim has won but must pay money to claim; or eliciting support for phony charities.”
As with a number of other types of crimes, elder exploitation may be underreported to law enforcement and regulatory agencies. Elder exploitation may not be discovered because victims are embarrassed about having allowed themselves to be swindled, reluctant (and, possibly, scared) to point the finger at the perpetrators, or may be too mentally confused to understand what is being done to them.
Being aware of an elder’s lifestyle is the first step in determining if they may be a victim of abuse. There may be many small and large symptoms of potential elder financial abuse, and it’s important to stay current on a family members’ (or friends’) behavior, their living environment, and, if you can, how their financial accounts are set up and their cash flow and bill paying activities. Some possible clues to potential elder financial exploitation include the following; note that it is only a partial list of what to look out for and look into.
Look out for these behaviors and situations:
Questions to ask about activities and actions:
Being active in an elder’s life and knowing their circumstances provides the opportunity to help them if they may be experiencing financial abuse, either from a family member, friend or a scammer. Here are some actions that could help manage elder financial abuse:
Providing financial guidance is an important privilege for Delta Community, and it’s a big part of the Credit Union’s mission to help members achieve their financial goals and succeed financially. For anyone interested in information on protecting accounts or financial guidance, check out the free Delta Community Financial Education Center webinars on a range of money-related topics. You can visit the Financial Education Center's Events & Seminars page to register for its no-cost, on-demand webinars.
The Credit Union’s blog also has more information that could be interesting and useful:
Another resource for good information is BALANCE™. BALANCE™ is a financial education and counseling organization that offers free services to Delta Community members. Some of its services include credit report reviews, debt management, and information on budgeting, money management and home buying.
Visit the BALANCE™ website to learn about their education and assistance programs. Members can also speak with certified credit and housing counselors to get personalized guidance.
Note that the services offered through BALANCE™ are separate and distinct from any business conducted with Delta Community and are not guaranteed by, nor are they obligations of, the Credit Union.