Financial exploitation of the elderly and ways to prevent it

The DOJ reports that in 2018 an estimated $20 to $36.5 billion was exploited from the elderly annually

VICTORIA, Texas – October is elderly financial exploitation awareness month and with financial exploitation increasing over the years it can happen to anyone, especially the elderly who are more vulnerable to being taken advantage of.

The Department of Justice reported in 2018 that an estimated $20 to $36.5 billion dollars were exploited annually from the elderly. Those figures are likely higher due to the pandemic.

Sebastian Gilder works in the investigations department with Adult Protective Services and provided some tips on what can be done to protect yourself and your loved ones to avoid being a victim of financial exploitation.

“If they’re still competent, set up those trusts, set up those wills, set up those money managements, or trusts, before they start to lose that mental capacity to do so,” says Gilder. Doing this ahead of time can prevent future headaches with these safety nets being set up early.

Financial exploitation can be more than just money too, Gilder says.

“Financial exploitation doesn’t just deal with money, finances, it’s a bi

g part of it. It’s any resource, that an elderly, or disabled person over the age of 18 would have. Homes, property, land, accounts, retirement accounts, cash; anything of value or resources that that person possesses,” says Gilder.

He also says that the elderly hold around 70% of the nation’s wealth so that’s why so often they are targeted.

It’s important to watch out for common red flags, such as spam phone calls, suspicious emails, and text messages which are all ways for those looking for their next financial victim to start to process to steal from them. Gilder also says that another big red flag to watch out for are people going door to door offering services. These services could be anything from lawn care, home improvement work, or selling any sort of product or service. If something feels off or even remotely too good to be true avoid giving them your information or getting into any sort of agreement with them.

To visit the Adult Protective Services website click here. Their hotline number is 1-800-252-5400 to report elderly abuse. Gilder says even if you suspect abuse is occurring but aren’t sure, to still call them and they will investigate.