Types of elder financial abuse:
Elder financial abuse has also been referred to as the “crime of the 21st century“.**
It is probably true to say that every example of elder financial abuse has its own unique characteristics. However, we can put the various types of financial abuse into several categories, albeit sometimes loose categories with blurred edges, and recognising that financial abuse can sometimes span more than one category.
It must be recognised also that the forms of abuse of the elderly are not limited to financial abuse, there is also psychological/emotional abuse, physical abuse, social abuse, sexual abuse and neglect abuse.
There no statistics below on criminal activity, for instance plain fraud or stealing. Even if a criminal aspect is involved a civil case can still be commenced for recovery.
Seniors Rights Victoria published a paper in June 2015 called “Profile of elder abuse in Victoria – Analysis of data about people seeking help from Seniors Rights Victoria.”
This was based on a relatively small sample of people who reported abuse to Seniors Rights Victoria over a two year period – July 2012 to June 2014. The number of reports, in relation to financial abuse, was 279.
Some of the statistics that emerge from this report are as follows:
- Of all the types of elder abuse (psychological, sexual, et cetera) financial abuse was the most prominent – 61% of all reports made. (Psychological/emotional abuse was the second most prominent – and combined with financial abuse accounted for almost two thirds of all callers).
- Over 90% of alleged perpetrators of elder financial abuse are related to the older person, or in a de facto relationship.
- 70% of the callers were women.
- The financial abuse occurred at a similar rate across the ages of 65 to 89 years.
- Men (60%) were more likely to be the perpetrators of financial abuse.
- Less than half (39%) of victims lived with the perpetrator (usually a son, daughter or partner).
- 39% of victims reported living alone.
- Overall (that is, including all other forms of abuse in the study) 40% of alleged perpetrators are sons and 27% are daughters; therefore a total of 67% of abuse is perpetrated by a child of the older person.
- Again overall, 43% of alleged perpetrators (not only sons and daughters) lived with the older person.
In the study, the types of financial abuse were broken down as follows:
|Financial abuse occurrences included:||#||%|
|Incurring bills for which older person is responsible||64||22.9|
|Taking up residence in home for reasons other than benefit of older person||43||15.4|
|Stealing goods from older person||38||13.6|
|Threatening, coercing or forcing an older person into handing over an asset (e.g. Signing paperwork concerning property, wills or POA)||36||12.9|
|Abuse/neglect/misuse of POA, including failure to consult older person or act in accordance of direction of OP when OP has capacity||31||11.1|
|Debt matter – failure to repay loan||23||8.2|
|Use of pressure or force on the older person to enter into disadvantageous financial arrangements (e.g. Loan, guarantee, gift, change of will, house transfer||23||8.2|
|Using an older person’s money or possessions without their consent||19||6.8|
|Using older person’s banking/financial docs without authorisation||18||6.5|
|Managing the finances of a competent older person without authority||16||5.7|
|Pressuring an older person to take out a loan or be a co-borrower/guarantor for loan for benefit of another||16||5.7|
|Threats of undue pressure on an older person to sell the house or handover assets||14||5|
|Pressuring older person to enter disadvantageous/uncertain granny flat or joint ownership arrangements||14||5|
|Assets for care – relationship breakdown||12||4.3|
|Appropriating proceeds of sale of older person’s home with false promise of providing future accommodation or care, then not providing it||7||2.5|
|Breach of trust||5||1.8|
|Pressuring an older person to relinquish an anticipated inheritance or gift or loan||3||1.1|
|Assets for care – preventive||2||0.7|
|Pressuring an older person for financial assistance||1||0.4|
42% of callers who reported financial abuse also reported psychological/emotional abuse.
*Brian Herd, Queensland solicitor at CRH Law – in a paper “Financial Abuse of the Elderly – Can the Estate recover the proceeds?”, March, 2017
** MetLife Mature Market Institute – “The MetLife Study of Elder Financial Abuse”, June 2011