When a California resident worries about someone exploiting their financial information, they often envision strangers and take extra precautions to make sure their personal information doesn’t leak out to unknown individuals.

What many do not realize is that 90% of perpetrators of financial abuse, especially elder financial abuse, are family members and people the victims know well, such as neighbors, friends and caregivers. Given the fact that elderly people are considered easy prey, it is important for loved ones to recognize the warning signs of financial elder abuse.

One of the most important clues of financial abuse can be when someone begins to be unable to recall important matters. This isn’t simply where one put the keys-its about a retiree not remembering signing a form authorizing a large bank withdrawal. This should immediately raise a red flag for caretakers. Either the retiree in question is beginning to show signs of diminished capacity and this should be catered to immediately, or someone is taking advantage of their relationship with him or her.

Mental frailty is not the only way elderly people become vulnerable to financial abuse. As they grow older, their physical capabilities also decline. This means they are suddenly inviting more people into their house to perform maintenance or perform household chores for them. Predators can take advantage of this situation, claiming something needs mending when it doesn’t and charging an exorbitant amount to complete it. Being present at the time of repairs and when signing contracts can be one way to ensure a loved one is not being taken advantage of. When an elderly person lives away from family members and other loved ones, it can be easy for predators to step in and make a connection that can be exploited later.

Since financial abuse is so often perpetrated by family members or friends, it can go unreported or become difficult to pursue justice, as one does not want to cause tensions. However, getting the proper authorities involved can ensure justice for the victim and might prevent future such cases.