• James Robinson CFP

Part 4: Red Flags and Warnings

Updated: May 29, 2018

50% and Growing

The United States Military Veteran population is growing. The above Statista chart shows that almost 50 percent of the male Americans, aged 75 years and over, were United States Military Veterans. This current percentage is perhaps larger as this chart is several years old.

Older U.S. Military Veterans - High Risk

As the percentage of older adults experience abuse, neglect, or exploitation annually in the United States…a vexing fact becomes apparent. U.S. Military Veterans are a group at high risk of abuse based on known risk factors. Because few studies have examined older Veterans experiencing abuse, Elder abuse experts are calling on the Veterans Administration (VA) to promote research, clinical care, and education in the area of elder abuse, furthering the VA's mission of serving those who have served.

Questions...to ask

Here are questions you may want to ask, if you suspect a veteran (family member or relative) has experienced or currently experiencing Financial Elder Abuse:

  1. Is the Senior Citizen usually accompanied by anyone else during trips to the bank to make deposits, withdrawals, and during access to their financial accounts?

  2. Does the Senior Citizen take the lead, or are they deferential to the companion?

  3. Does the Senior Citizen customer withdrawals of funds change hands from customer to companion? Upon question..is companion familiar to teller or customer service staff?

  4. What is physical appearance of the Senior Citizen customer in terms of physical condition and dress? Compared to historical contact with Senior Citizen , are they dressed appropriately, or has their level of dress declined? Are there any visible injuries to Senior Citizen?

  5. Does the Senior Citizen show signs of confusion, or of being drugged?

  6. Does the Senior Citizen complain that they had a stable account balance suddenly incurring NSF charges or low account balance?

  7. Has the Senior Citizen account shown a large increase in withdrawals and checks to unfamiliar vendors?

  8. Do accounts of the Senior Citizen customer show large transfers into the account from investment accounts, only to be quickly withdrawn?

  9. For the Senior Citizen with no or infrequent ATM withdrawals now showing an increased pattern of ATM withdrawals?

  10. Has the Senior Citizen with consistent spending patterns now showing a sharp increase in spending?

  11. Do the Senior Citizen credit cards show a sharp increase in card usage and a materially larger balance in the account? Are the vendors being paid via the card consistent with customer transaction history?

  12. Has the Senior Citizen’s pension or social security deposits been redirected to a different account that has a joint account holder unfamiliar to the staff?

Spot Abuse Early

The American Bankers Association advises that Financial Abuse against older Americans can be spotted by a change in a person’s established financial patterns. They suggest concerned family members and advisors watch out for these red flags:

  • Unusual activity in the Senior Citizen’s bank accounts, including large, frequent or unexplained withdrawals.

  • Changing from a basic account to one that offers more complicated services the Senior Citizen does not fully understand or need.

  • Withdrawals from bank accounts or transfers between accounts the Senior Citizen cannot explain.

  • A new “best friend” accompanying the Senior Citizen to the bank.

  • Sudden non-sufficient fund activity or unpaid bills.

  • Closing CDs or accounts without regard to penalties.

  • Uncharacteristic attempts to wire large sums of money.

  • Suspicious signatures on checks, or outright forgery.

  • Confusion, fear or lack of awareness on the part of a Senior Citizen.

  • Checks written as ‘loans’ or ‘gifts?'

  • Bank statements that no longer go to the Senior Citizen’s home.

  • New powers of attorney the Senior Citizen does not understand.

  • A caretaker, relative or friend who suddenly begins conducting financial transactions on behalf of the Senior Citizen.

  • Altered wills and trusts by a trusted advisor or caregiver of the Senior Citizen.

Billions Lost Annually

Billions of Dollars are lost annually due to Financial Elder Abuse. These are valuable assets that could be used to maintain Senior Citizens quality of life. Think of the cost to American taxpayers as we divert tax dollars to pay lost term care cost as Seniors Citizens have depleted financial assets.

Don’t Be A Victim Twice

Many Senior Citizens fear that if they report the abuse and the perpetrator is prosecuted, they will be alone or placed in a nursing home. If you suspect elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation, you should report these concerns to the protective services agency where the Senior Citizen lives to find the reporting contacts for a specific state,

Caution: If the situation is serious, threatening, or dangerous, call 911 or the local police for immediate help.

Resources and References

  1. Statista: This graph displays the percentage of Americans who were veterans in 2016, distinguished by age and gender. In 2016, almost 50 percent of the male Americans, aged 75 years and over, were veterans.| statista.com/statistics/250366/percentage-of-us-population-who-are-veterans/

  2. "Veterans Experiencing Elder Abuse: Improving Care for a High-Risk Population About Which Little is Known." Lena K. Makaroun, Laura Taylor, and Tony Rosen. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Published Online: November 9, 2017, DOI: 10.1111/jgs.15170

  3. Association of Certified Financial Crime Specialists |acfcs.org/news/

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