Sadly, elder abuse happens all too often throughout the country and the world. As the older population continues to increase at a historical rate, concern over abuse and neglect of the elderly grows as well. We tend to envision physical abuse or emotional neglect when we think of elder abuse; however, financial exploitation is the most common form of elder abuse. To help you keep your elderly loved ones safe, the Grand Forks elder law attorneys at German Law discuss financial exploitation of the elderly in North Dakota.
The Aging American Population
Figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau indicate that the U.S. population age 65 and over grew nearly five times faster than the total population over the 100 years from 1920 to 2020. That same year (2020), the older population in the U.S. reached 55.8 million or 16.8 percent of the total population. With the explosion of the older demographic in the U.S., issues that affect them have increasingly been in the spotlight. Unfortunately, elder abuse is among those problems. While abuse of the elderly is not a new problem, the sheer number of older Americans means that elder abuse occurs far more frequently now than it once did. It also means that people who intentionally prey on vulnerable adults have considerably more potential victims now than they would have just a few decades ago.
What Is Financial Exploitation of the Elderly?
Financial exploitation, also referred to as financial abuse, of the elderly is defined by the U.S Department of Justice (DOJ) as the “use or receipt of services provided by the vulnerable adult without just compensation, the taking, acceptance, misappropriation, or misuse of property or resources of a vulnerable adult by means of undue influence, breach of a fiduciary relationship, deception, harassment, criminal coercion, theft, or other unlawful or improper means.” Common examples of financial exploitation of the elderly include things such as:
- Stealing the identity of an elderly person
- Intercepting and cashing checks
- Taking money or other valuables
- Telemarketing scams
- Befriending an elderly person to get gifts
- Power of attorney fraud
- Using undue influence to get an elderly person to change their estate planning documents
- Home improvement scams
- Overcharging for services
What Should I Do If I Suspect Financial Exploitation of an Elderly Loved One in North Dakota?
Although there are plenty of perpetrators of financial exploitation who are strangers to the victim, the harsh reality is that two out of three perpetrators are family members, often an adult child or spouse of an adult child. If you suspect that an elderly loved one is the victim of financial exploitation of the elderly in North Dakota, you should first try to confirm your suspicions. Talk to your loved one if possible; however, be aware that many older victims do not report abuse of any kind because they are ashamed to be a victim. If you have the legal authority to do things such as checking bank account statements and/or reviewing bills and payments, take the time to do so. Because financial exploitation often qualifies as a criminal offense, you should file a report with the appropriate law enforcement agency as well as file a complaint with the North Dakota Adult Protective Services. Finally, consult with an experienced elder law attorney to discuss additional legal options available to you. For example, you may need to petition for guardianship over your loved one and/or pursue a lawsuit against the agency responsible for overseeing your loved one’s care.
Contact Grand Forks Elder Law Attorneys
Please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about financial exploitation of the elderly in North Dakota, contact the Grand Forks elder law attorneys at German Law by calling 701-738-0060 to schedule an appointment.
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