Elder financial abuse is a growing problem. Scammers see the elderly as easy targets. What’s even sadder, legal guardians may take financial advantage of the people they are supposed to protect.
A new law addresses the problem of the financial abuse of vulnerable seniors. Called “Court-Appointed Guardian Accountability and Senior Protection Act,” the law, passed in October 2017, helps state courts make sure that legal guardians and conservators are not exploiting or neglecting the seniors in their care.
Elder financial abuse is shockingly common. A 2015 report found that in the United States alone, seniors lose $36.5 billion every year to scammers. Seniors with cognitive impairments may present the most tempting targets to scammers, but no seniors are totally safe. More than 5 percent of seniors who are “cognitively intact” become victims of fraud or abuse.
Overall, more than half a million seniors in the United States. report being victims of financial elder abuse each year, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In actuality, the problem is even worse than that because many victims of scams and financial abuse never report what happened as they feel ashamed.
What Does the New Law Do?
The new law provides resources for state courts to provide better oversight of guardians and conservators to keep them more accountable. Courts can apply for funding to improve their procedures designed to protect vulnerable seniors from fraud and abuse. Possible uses of the funding would be to conduct background checks on guardians and conservators, or to create an electronic system that will keep better track of the guardians and conservators.
What Can You Do?
If you believe that someone may be trying to take financial advantage of a loved one, you should take action to protect them – whether the person taking advantage is a legal guardian, a conservator, a stranger, or even a family member. Look out for signs of financial abuse, including sudden unexpected changes in your loved one’s estate plans, unusual bank withdrawals, sudden financial difficulties, or excitement over “winning” a dubious lottery or sweepstakes.
If you suspect that your loved one is already the target of a scam or other form of financial abuse, you should seek advice from an experienced elder abuse lawyer. Call the Law Offices of Garcia, Artigliere & Medby at (800) 281-8515 for a free consultation to find out how you can help your loved one.