Is Someone You Know a Victim of Financial Exploitation?
Before you can begin to identify if someone you know is a victim of financial exploitation, we should define what the term is.
According to Lawinsider.com, “Financial exploitation means the illegal or improper use, control over, or withholding of the property, income, resources, or trust funds of the vulnerable adult by any person or entity for any person’s or entity’s profit or advantage other than for the vulnerable adult’s profit or advantage.”
If you are a caregiver or family member of someone you feel may be a victim of financial exploitation here are some signs to look out for, according to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
You may discover that there is money missing from the person’s account or the person says some money or property is missing. You may also notice that the victim is afraid or seems afraid of a friend, caregiver, or relative.
Also, this friend, caregiver, or relative, or someone else may keep the victim from having visitors, phone calls, or does not let them speak for themselves, or seems to be controlling their decisions.
There may also be changes in the victim’s savings or spending habits. These changes may include:
- Withdrawing of funds from accounts with no explanation as to why when asked
- Wiring large amounts of money
- Overuse of the ATM
- Not paying bills that are usually paid
- Spending money on items or services that are unnecessary
- Adding names to accounts that you are unfamiliar with and the victim is unwilling or unable to explain why they added those people to their account.
You may notice that the victim is no longer receiving account statements or bills as they have in the past. Another sign is giving new or unusual gifts to a “new best friend”, or to family members or to others.
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If the victim changes their beneficiaries of a life insurance policy, retirement funds, or even their Will, should arouse suspension on your part as well.
Also, if the victim decides to allow a family member, caregiver, or friend to handle their money should also be a red flag.
If you feel that someone you know could be a victim of financial exploitation what can you do?
First, contact your local police department or sheriff’s office to report the incident, says the Financial Consumer Protection Bureau.
Related: Where Should You Save Your Money?
You should also contact your state attorney general as well.
If the victim is an elderly person and/or has a disability, you should contact your local adult protective services agency.
Finally, you can submit a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
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