The abuser may live with the victim or exert a constant presence at the victim’s residence. Abuse seems to be motivated by financial gain rather than malice toward the victim. The victim is often single and isolated with few social supports.
People who have decreased mobility (i.e., no longer drive a vehicle and/or have more difficulty with activities of daily living [ADLs]), or mental impairments (i.e. confusion or forgetfulness), may also need to rely on someone else to manage their financial affairs. Although this creates the opportunity for abuse, many caregivers legitimately conduct the financial affairs of older persons. Distinguishing between this legitimate conduct and abuse is not always easy.
Indicators of financial abuse
- An unusual volume or type of banking activity, or activity inconsistent with the victim’s normal behaviors or ability (i.e., use of ATM by a bedridden victim).
- Non-payment of bills leading to eviction notices or threats to discontinue utilities.
- Changes to legal documents such as deeds or powers of attorney that the person did not understand at the time he or she signed them.
- Withdrawals from bank accounts or transfers between accounts that the person cannot explain.
- Bank statements and canceled checks no longer going to the person’s home in conjunction with other indicators.
- The person’s standard of living doesn’t reflect the person’s financial resources.
- Missing assets or funds.
- Suspicious signatures on checks or other documents.
- Absence of documentation about financial arrangements.
- The abuser may be living beyond his/her personal means, or his/her standard of living rises suddenly and without explanation.
The victim may:
- Give implausible explanations about his or her finances.
- Be unaware of or does not understand financial arrangements that have been made for him or her.
The abuser may:
- Express excessive concern about cost of caring for the victim or reluctance about spending money or paying bills.
- Be a recent acquaintance that expresses interest in the person’s finances, promises to provide assistance or care or ingratiates him/herself to the person.
- Give implausible explanations about the older person’s finances.
- Isolate the victim from friends and family.
- Insist on a lowered cost of care giving arrangements inconsistent with the victim’s requirements and ability to pay.