Recognize Signs, Help Prevent Elder Abuse
Financial Fraud Especially Detrimental To The Elderly
BEECHER, IL (January 31, 2012) – Crimes against the elderly are on the rise. Perceived as easy targets because of assumed physical or mental weaknesses, older people can be especially vulnerable to financial fraud as a single incident can completely wipe out their life savings, leaving them with very little or nothing to support themselves. Since the perpretrator is often someone that the elderly victim trusted, like a family member, friend or caregiver, the emotional toll can also be devastating.
Unfortunatelythese crimes often go unreported because the victim might feel isolated or embarrassed, may not know where to go for help, or, in some cases, may not even realize they have been victimized. By knowing the indicators, friends and family of elderly persons may be able to help prevent or limit the financial damage this type of fraud causes.
Red flags that might indicate financial exploitation include:
- Sudden changes in an elder's bank accounts or banking practices.
- Uncharacteristic and unexplained withdrawals of large sums of money by an elder or someone with Power of Attorney for an elder.
- Large credit card transactions or checks written to unusual recipients such as salesmen, telemarketers or "Cash."
- Abrupt changes in a will or other financial document, such as a transfer of an elder's assets to a family member or acquaintance without a reasonable explanation.
- Complaints of stolen or misplaced credit cards, valuables, checkbooks or checks from social security, pensions and annuities.
- Nervousness when accompanied by another individual or far-fetched explanations of why they need money.
- Elders who appear puzzled by increases in incurred debt or credit card transactions.
- A person accompanying an elder who bullies him or her into making a withdrawal or does not allow the elder to speak for him or herself.
- New signatories added to an elder's account or newly formed joint accounts between an elder and another individual.
- Possible forged signatures on financial transactions, documents for transfer of assets or new applications for items such as credit cards.
Different elder financial exploitation schemes include Intimidation, Power of Attorney, Lottery and Sweetheart Scams. Each scheme targets a different vulnerability but has the same goal of separating the elderly victim from his or her funds.
As part of mandated training, all bank employees at First Community Bank and Trust complete a course that addresses this serious issue. The course identifies different types of scams, warning signs to watch for and appropriate actions to take if fraud is suspected. This training allows us to better serve our customers and to protect their assets.
If you suspect financial elder abuse, either your own or that of a family member or friend, please contact the Illinois Department on Aging Elder Abuse Hotline: 1-866-800-1409 (1-888-206-1327 -TTY). Information is also available on their website, www.state.il.us/aging/.
About First Community Bank and Trust
First Community Bank and Trust is a privately owned bank. Established in 1916 First Community Bank and Trust has been serving Beecher, IL, Peotone, IL and the surrounding communities for over 95 years. Our commitment to providing the best banking products and services is matched only by our outstanding customer service. We offer traditional community banking services, including mortgage, consumer, and commercial lending, as well as state of the art electronic banking services.
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Steven D. Koehn, VP
First Community Bank and Trust