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Elder Financial Abuse
What is Elder Financial Abuse?
In California, elders are defined as persons 65 years and older.
Under California law, elder abuse can be both criminal and civil.
Criminal elder abuse occurs where any person who violates any provision of law proscribing theft, embezzlement, forgery, or fraud, or of an elder and who knows or reasonably should know that the victim is an elder, is punishable by a fine of two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500) and imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or in the state prison for two, three, or four years, when the money, labor, goods, services, or real or personal property taken or obtained is of a value exceeding nine hundred fifty dollars ($950); and by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment, when money, labor, goods, services, or real or personal property taken or obtained is of a value not exceeding nine hundred fifty dollars ($950). (Penal Code Section 368)
Civil law defines civil elder financial abuse as when a person or entity does any of the following: (Welfare & Institutions Code Section 15610.30)
How to Recognize Financial Abuse1. Transaction Abuse Indicators
2. Possible Legal Document Abuse Indicators
3. Life-Style Change Indicators
4. Personal Relationship Abuse Indicators
Warnings to Elders about How to Avoid Financial Abuse
When it comes to your finances, deal only with people whom you trust and with companies or organizations that you know to be trustworthy! Never accept a verbal promise or assurance if money or property is involved. Always get everything in writing. Elders rarely benefit from mistakes or misunderstandings. Don’t sign anything without carefully reading it and never feel pressured to sign before you are absolutely ready to live with your decision. Take your time! Remember, it took a lifetime of work and sacrifice to build up your estate and you can lose it all with one stroke of a pen.
What to Do About Known or Suspected Elder Financial Abuse?
When you know about or even suspect Elder Abuse, REPORT IT!
Who are Mandated Reporters?
What is Reported?
When to Report?
Failure to Report
Any mandated reporter who willfully fails to report physical abuse, abandonment, abduction, isolation, financial abuse, or neglect of an elder where that abuse results in death or great bodily injury, shall be punished by not more than one year in a county jail and a fine of five thousand dollars ($5,000).
Where to Report
Remember … Anyone can report suspected financial abuse.
Consumer Scams: Contact the county office of the District Attorney—check California District Attorney's Association for current addresses and phone numbers at 916-443-2017 or www.cdaa.org.
Insurance Agent Complaints: Contact the State Insurance Commissioner's Office at 1-800-927-4347 or www.insurance.ca.gov. If an attorney sold the annuity, also file a complaint with the State Bar Association at 1-800-843-9053 or www.calbar.ca.gov.
Attorney Complaints: File a complaint with the State Bar of California if you believe your attorney acted improperly, and file complaints with state (http://www.dca.ca.gov/consumer/complaints.shtml) and local consumer protection agencies.
Mortgage Lenders & Brokers Complaints: If you believe that a real estate professional has committed fraud having to do with your reverse mortgage, file a complaint with the California Department of Real Estate at http://www.dre.ca.gov/Consumers/FileComplaint.html. Also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission online or by phone, toll–free, at 1–877–FTC–HELP.
Local law enforcement and county District Attorney's office - check California District Attorney's Association for current addresses and phone numbers at 916-443-2017 or www.cdaa.org.
Adult Protective Services (APS) in your county by referring to California Department of Social Services Web site at http://www.cdss.ca.gov/agedblinddisabled/PG1298.htm.
Page Last Modified: June 4, 2013