To report abuse of an adult at risk
(age 18 to 59),
call your county helpline.
To report abuse in a nursing home
or other long term care facility,
contact the Division of Quality Assurance.
Financial exploitation can rob a person of self-esteem and trust, as well as needed income and assets. Although financial exploitation does not leave physical scars, it is an abusive crime.
Consider these actions to protect yourself from financial exploitation.
Control Your Own Finances
No one, not even a trusted family member, should pressure you into giving up control of your finances. If you are feeling pressured, talk to someone at your church, your local Aging and Disability Resource Center, your bank, or an attorney.
Set up a Power of Attorney for Finances (POA-F). The POA-F form asks you to consider a wide range of financial decisions. If you should become incapacitated, even for a short time, your agent will act for you based on directions you provided when the form was completed. Having a POA-F and a Power of Attorney for Health Care can often delay or replace the need for a guardianship. In addition, the decisions will be made based on your choices and your preferred agent. A Power of Attorney can be as limited or as broadly defined as you wish and can be revoked at any time. Keep a copy of the form safe in your home and give a copy to your agent as well as to your financial institutions (banks, mortgage company, insurance company, etc.).
Print a POA-F form and learn more information about this document.
Practice Safe Banking
Avoid joint checking accounts with non-spouses. When you add someone's name to your account, they can do far more than just sign checks to pay your bills. They become a joint owner of the account and can withdraw the entire balance without your knowledge or approval. Additionally, if they have any debts, his or her creditors may be entitled to funds in your shared account.
Check your bank statements at least monthly. If someone is helping you pay bills and manage your accounts, get a trusted third party to do a monthly review of your bank statements.
If you no longer use your ATM card, cancel it.
"Payable on Death" Accounts
If you want a person to inherit the funds in your account, instead of a joint checking account, consider a "payable on death" designation. All you have to do is notify your bank and the beneficiary of the legal name of the person who you want to inherit the money. You don't have to pay fees to an attorney for a payable on death bank account, but it accomplishes the exact same goals as a trust fund.
If you are establishing an account so that someone can help you pay expenses, consider depositing only enough to pay each month's bills. Many bills can now be paid directly from your account. Check with your bank or service provider about automatic monthly payments.
Have your social security, pension and other income checks automatically deposited. Your money will be securely deposited so you do not have to be concerned about lost or stolen checks. Talk to your bank about direct deposit. For automatic deposit of your social security checks, call 1-800-772-1213 or visit http://www.ssa.gov/deposit/ for more information.
Create "protected" accounts that limit daily, weekly or monthly withdrawals or flag irregular activity. If someone is helping you to manage your finances, get a trusted third person to review your bank statement each month.
Care and Services
Check references and credentials of anyone you hire to provide care or services.
Keep your financial information private and secure. In most cases, caregivers do not need access to your financial records.
Do not sign over money or property to anyone in return for care, even family members, without review by a trusted third party.
Other Useful Tips
Open your own mail.
Do not feel pressured to sign documents that you do not understand.
Sign your own checks and do not sign blank checks, even for family members.
Remember: it is your money. Do not be afraid to say NO. Do not be afraid to ask for help.