Vulnerable adults safety

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Financial exploitation

Protect yourself from financial exploitation

Seniors face a number of important legal and financial questions. Discuss your options with a lawyer, financial planner, and your family. Keep them updated on your wishes and decisions.

Be proactive about your financial security

Do your due diligence before making investment decisions or sharing any personal or financial information.

Be cautious about door-to-door salespeople, telemarketers or unsolicited mail or email. A solicitor pressuring you or refusing to provide additional information about the company or offer is a red flag. Seek out reputable companies and products.

Discuss financial safeguards with trusted family members. Someone should know how to locate important personal and financial documents.

Be wary of scams

Common scams and ways to protect yourself:

  • Phishing scams seek out your personal or financial information. Don’t share that information with solicitors.
  • Reverse mortgage scams steal the equity in your home. Legitimate loan products will be insured by the Federal Housing Authority.
  • Free prizes or foreign lottery winnings that require you to send money in advance or provide financial information are scams. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Medicare or health care fraud may involve calls seeking personal information or bills for unknown services.

Tips to stay safe

  • Do not respond to unsolicited advertisements. Carefully research any offers, investments or products.
  • Legitimate businesses do not solicit personal or financial information. Ignore mail, email, text or pop-up messages that ask for sensitive information.
  • If you’re concerned about your account, call the phone number on your financial statement or credit card.
  • Get Caller ID and do not answer calls from unfamiliar numbers.
  • Don’t sign anything you do not understand.

Legal considerations

Find a good lawyer to help you think through legal issues.

Draft a will or living trust to dictate how your property and other assets will be distributed. Consult an expert you know and trust before making these decisions.

Establish advance directives or a living will to document your health care wishes.

Be careful when granting power of attorney. Power of attorney can be an important tool to help manage your affairs, but can be destructive in the wrong hands. Do not grant power of attorney unless it is necessary. If possible, only entrust someone you know well, who your friends and family believe has your best interests in mind, and understands the fiduciary responsibility of a power of attorney.

If you think you are a victim

Contact your local police department.

You can also call these numbers with questions:

  • Minnesota Board on Aging's Senior LinkAge Line: 1-800-333-2433
  • Hennepin County Attorney’s Office citizen information help line: 612-348-5550

Elder abuse

Definition and types of elder abuse

Elder abuse is intentional or negligent acts by a caregiver or trusted person that cause serious harm to a vulnerable adult. Elder abuse can be physical, emotional, or sexual, and can also include threats, financial exploitation, neglect, or abandonment.


Refusing or failing to provide basic care to a vulnerable adult is neglect. An example would be failure to meet basic needs such as food, water, clothing, shelter, personal hygiene, medicine, comfort, and personal safety. Failure to pay for needed home-care services or refusal by a service provider to perform caretaker duties is also neglect.

Intentional deprivation that results in substantial bodily harm to a vulnerable adult is a felony in Minnesota as of August 1, 2012.

Signs of elder abuse or neglect

  • Dehydration or malnutrition
  • Untreated bed sores
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Hazardous or unsafe living conditions or arrangements
  • Unsanitary living conditions
  • Bruises or broken bones
  • Unexplained or untreated health problems
  • Insomnia, sleep deprivation, or excessive sleeping
  • Reports of mistreatment

Who is at risk

Elder abuse can happen to anyone. Increased risk factors include dementia and isolation. Victims' and caretakers' mental health and substance abuse issues can also contribute to elder abuse.

How to get help

An estimated one in 10 older Americans are abused each year. A much smaller number of cases are reported. If you suspect elder abuse, report it to the authorities.

In an emergency, always call 911. 

In a non-emergency, contact:

  • Your local police department
  • The Common Entry Point: 612-348-8526 
  • Minnesota Board on Aging's Senior LinkAge Line: 1-800-333-2433
  • Hennepin County Attorney’s Office citizen information help line: 612-348-5550
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