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Many elderly Florida residents fall victim to financial abuse, often at the hands of the people closest to them. Although this form of abuse is illegal and punishable under the law, it is too often a crime that goes unreported by the victims due to shame or embarrassment.

Elderly citizens are more susceptible to situations where someone they trust steals or misuses their money, assets or other resources. Abusers take advantage of the elderly using tactics such as coercion, deception and forgery. The U.S. Justice Department reports that one out of every twenty elderly people suffers financial abuse at the hands of family members. And, family members are not the only perpetrators. Abusers also include financial advisors, caregivers, guardians, and people who have power of attorney.

While theft of money is most common, it is not the only form of abuse. An abuser may prevent an elderly person from gaining access to his or her personal possessions including credit cards, debit cards, medical insurance cards and even a driver’s license. It is estimated that the amount of money lost by elderly persons due to this type of exploitation ranges from $2.9 to $36.5 billion dollars annually.

Fortunately, there are resources available for victims who need help. According to U.S. News, the most common courses of action are to reach out to law enforcement, contact Adult Protective Services and/or file a civil lawsuit. A victim can also obtain a restraining order from the court against the person who is abusing them financially. Although recouping stolen money from an abuser is difficult, elderly victims have options at their disposal to combat and remedy this financial exploitation.