Spot the signs of elder abuse
Dame Vera Baird the Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria, has joined Action on Elder Abuse in urging older people and their families to learn how to spot the signs of financial abuse.
Data from the charity suggests that as many as 142 older people across Northumberland and 1,341 pensioners in the North East may currently be experiencing financial abuse.
Typical financial crimes perpetrated against older people include fraud, forgery or embezzlement; the misuse of proxy decision making powers; ‘doorstep crime’, e.g. bogus tradesmen and postal, phone or internet scams.
Action on Elder Abuse chief executive, Gary FitzGerald, said: “Unfortunately, older people are particularly vulnerable to financial abuse and there are far too many people who seek to exploit them.”
Dame Vera Baird added: “Elder abuse is a big problem and one that often goes unreported so I’m very pleased that Action on Elder Abuse is raising awareness of the issue and what the public can do to combat it.
“I urge anyone who is either being abused themselves or suspects a loved one may be at risk to be vigilant and report it to the police.”
Action on Elder Abuse operates a confidential helpline (080 8808 8141) offering advice and support on all aspects of elder abuse.
The PCC and Action on Elder Abuse have said that older people can help keep themselves safe by:
· Checking bank statements regularly and tracking receipts
· Reducing how much money can be taken from an account at any one time
· Having a copy of bank statements sent to someone trustworthy to check
· Limiting the use of ‘chip and pin’ to control money
· Keeping important documents and valuables out of sight
· Never letting anyone into your home unless you can confirm their identity or they have made an appointment
· Only booking work on a house through ‘trusted trader’ schemes
· Treat anyone asking for your financial details unsolicited with suspicion and note that banks will never ask you for your account number or pin details.
In instances where an older person is not in a position to protect themselves from financial abuse (e.g. they have dementia), the charity advises that families and loved ones stay vigilant to spot the signs that abuse may be taking place. These include:
· Signatures on official documents that do not resemble the older person’s own
· Changes in banking habits (e.g. large sums of money being withdrawn)
· The inclusion of additional names on bank accounts
· Abrupt changes to, or the sudden establishment of, wills
· Sudden and unexplained transfers of assets to a family member or someone outside the family
· The unexplained disappearance of funds or possessions
· The deliberate isolation of an older person from friends and family, resulting in a
carer having total control.
· The sudden introduction of a Power of Attorney document that places control with an unknown Third Party