June is Elder Abuse Awareness Month, and the Arkansas Securities Department is reminding everyone to be vigilant for signs of elder abuse, including financial exploitation.
Elder abuse can take on multiple forms, and it is a social issue that globally affects millions of older people. Learning the red flags of financial abuse might be the first step in protecting seniors from becoming a victim of frauds and scams.
“Arkansas’s seniors are a very valuable resource, and they should be protected,” said ASD Interim Commissioner Campbell McLaurin. “We would like to emphasize the significance of protecting the financial independence and dignity of our seniors. One way to help combat elder financial abuse is to establish a trusted contact for all financial accounts.”
A trusted contact may be a family member, attorney, accountant, or other party who respects the privacy of the account holder and adds a layer of safety. The trusted contact does not have access to accounts to execute transactions or the ability to act on the account holder’s behalf. It is simply a person a financial firm can contact in the event of unusual activity pointing to fraud or abuse.
According to the Department of Justice, red flags of financial abuse may include:
- Sudden changes in bank accounts or banking practices, including an unexplained withdrawal of large sums of money
- The inclusion of additional names on an older adult’s bank signature card
- Unauthorized withdrawal of the older adult’s fundings using ATM card
- Abrupt changes in will or other financial documents
- Unexplained disappearance of funds or valuable possessions
- Provision of substandard care of bills left unpaid despite adequate financial resources
- Discovery of a forged signature for financial transactions or for the titles of the older adult’s possessions
- Sudden appearance of previously uninvolved relatives claiming their rights to an older adult’s property or possessions
- Unexplained sudden transfer of assets to a family member or someone outside the family
- The provision of services that are not necessary
- An older adult’s report of financial exploitation
McLaurin asks anyone with suspicions of possible senior financial exploitation to contact the Arkansas Securities Department at (800) 981-4429.