It is becoming a familiar story. The financial exploitation of Seniors is becoming a nationwide epidemic. Tough economic times seem to be driving the explosion in this type of financial abuse.
A Toledo Blade News article on Saturday July4, 2011 highlighted three different local stories of elder financial abuse. In Lucas County last year, 119 cases of elder financial abuse were reported. Nationwide, victims lost more than $2.9 billion dollars in 2010.
In conferences with my clients, I always emphasize the benefits of having a financial power of attorney (POA), but caution about the potential hazards. An unknown attorney in fact designate in a financial power of attorney can do a lot of damage to one’s financial security. However, POA’s can be drafted to limit the authority of an attorney in fact, such as capping the amount of a check that can be written or the amount that can be withdrawn from a bank without, a lawyer or other third party concurring in the action.
The Blade article also listed several other ways to avoid becoming a victim of elder financial abuse:
*Bank independently as long as possible by using automatic bill payer;
*Do not write your Social Security number on your checks;
*Review all credit card statements and bank statements;
*Do not give out credit card information over the phone, unless you made the call; and
*Check out contractor’s licenses, obtain quotes and do not pay until a job is finished for all home repairs.
As a community, we need to be vigilant to protect the senior community from those looking to take advantage of them. If you suspect any kind of elder abuse, report it to your county’s Adult Protective Services.
Michael P. Dansack