Fighting Financial Exploitation of the Elderly in Chicago
Representing Victims of Financial Abuse
Whereas the elderly were at one time fully self-sufficient and able to care for themselves, many nursing home residents are no longer able to do so. As such, nursing home residents often rely upon others to help them with a number of finance-related activities. Unfortunately, many situations occur where caregivers or family members exert undue influence on the dependent person and take financial advantage of the situation. Such financial abuse and exploitation can leave our loved ones without the resources necessary for their care and lifestyle.
If you believe your elderly loved one has been exploited or taken advantage of financially, then take action right away to protect whatever assets they have left. If a criminal act has taken place, such as theft or fraud, contact local law enforcement to report the crime and pursue justice for your loved one. You may also be able to file a civil claim to get restitution for your loved one, but you should have an experienced Chicago elder abuse lawyer by your side before filing any lawsuit. Call Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC at (800) 996-4824 for free information about your options.
What Is Elder Financial Abuse/Exploitation?
While financial abuse and exploitation can happen to just about anyone, such as fraud and identity theft, certain forms are more likely to involve the elderly. Our elderly loved ones tend to need more help handling money, and often trust someone else with their finances as they move into nursing homes. That gives others the opportunity to exploit that trust. Nursing home staff members especially, have access and influence over their elderly patients, which gives them more opportunities to exploit those in their care for their own financial gain. When this happens, it is a form of elder abuse just like violence or neglect.
Common Forms of Financial Abuse
Although there are many different ways in which the elderly can be financially abused, some common ones include:
- Theft: Caregivers may steal personal items, jewelry, money, or other items of value from the elderly person.
- Undue influence: The caregiver may exert his/her power over the elderly person to make that person change his or her will, to give the caregiver power of attorney, or to add the caregiver to the patient's property deeds.
- Bank Withdrawals: The caregiver may steal checks, forge checks, or use the elderly patient's credit or debit cards to make unnecessary and unauthorized purchases.
- Fraud and Scams: In some instances, financial abuse might not involve someone the elderly person trusts. Strangers over the phone or Internet can scam the elderly out of substantial amounts of money through fraud.
Who Might Commit Financial Abuse?
While just about anybody can commit this type of abuse, a few particular people are more likely to have access to our loved ones and take advantage of them. These people include:
- Nursing Home Staff: Unfortunately, those we trust most with our elderly loved ones may prey upon them. The access that these people have to the elderly and their possessions gives some of them the opportunity to steal. This financial abuse might occur alongside physical or emotional abuse, as staff members pressure and intimidate the elderly into giving them money, valuables, or personal information.
- Family: Sometimes, even our own family members manipulate our elderly loved ones and take things from them. While we might not want to imagine this happening, it is important to perform oversight, and always be sure that other family members are respecting the possessions of our elders.
- Scam Artists: Strangers can prey on the elderly, sometimes just as easily as anyone else. Our elderly loved ones often don’t realize how prevalent scams and fraud have become over the phone and through email. Phone and door-to-door salespeople will target the "naïve" elderly with their expensive products. It is important to make sure our loved ones are protected from these predators.
- Accountants: Occasionally, the very people our elderly loved ones trust with their assets betray that confidence. Always make sure that the financial information reported to your elderly family members makes sense and seems accurate. If in doubt, have an audit done by a different financial institution or professional.
Is Financial Abuse a Criminal or Civil Violation?
In many cases, financial abuse of the elderly is a violation of both criminal and civil law. If you see evidence that someone is stealing from your elderly loved ones, then take action - not only to stop future exploitation, but also to make sure those responsible are punished. Notify local law enforcement right away to report what has happened; and speak with an experienced elder abuse lawyer to determine how to protect your loved one and recover whatever assets you can.
If you believe your elderly loved one is being financially abused or exploited, then call us at Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC at (800) 996-4824 right now. Our aggressive attorneys have over 25 years of experience and have achieved multi-million dollar settlements for our deserving clients and their families.