What is financial exploitation?
If you are elderly, disabled or you are an impaired adult, someone you trust may harm you by taking or using your money or property to help themselves. This is called financial exploitation and it is a crime in New Hampshire.
Financial exploitation can be:
• using a power of attorney or joint bank account to take your money or property,
• using pressure, lies, or their power over you to take your money or property,
• phone scams that scare or trick you into sending money to someone.
What are signs of financial exploitation?
If your elderly or disabled friend or loved one:
• has financial activity that is inconsistent, cannot be explained, or suddenly changes,
• cannot explain or is confused about why they have less money,
• is always with a new friend,
• is spending more time away from family or friends or is suddenly not being friendly with family or friends,
• suddenly or unexpectedly changes their will, trust, power of attorney, or other legal document in favor of a new friend,
• changes how they look or how they take care of themselves.
Who financially exploits people?
• Family members including children and grandchildren
• Friends, neighbors, acquaintances, or other people you trust
• Hired professional or volunteer caregivers
• Strangers and professional criminals who target the elderly
Is financial exploitation a crime in New Hampshire?
Yes. The financial abuse of elderly, disabled, or impaired adults is a crime in New Hampshire.
It is a crime when:
• Someone improperly controls your property or money.
• Somebody forces you to create a relationship that gives them power or control over your money or property.
• Someone who has power over your money or property misuses that power.
Can I sue in civil court to get my money or property back?
Probably. But it is hard to get your money back once it has been taken. The person who took your money probably spent it and has no way to pay it back. So even if you win in court, you may not be able to collect the money. It may be easier to get back property, like a house.
How can I keep this from happening to me?
• Keep in touch with friends and loved ones. You are an easier target if you are isolated.
• Never give personal information like your Social Security or Medicare numbers, your credit card information, or your PIN number to anyone.
• Do not sign blank checks.
• Do not give your credit or debit cards to anyone.
• Do not leave money or personal information lying around.
• Avoid scams like prizes you have suddenly “won.” If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
• Check your bank statements and bills to watch for any activity that is unusual or that you cannot explain.
• Before you hire someone to do work, get the cost of the job in writing. Agree on a price and don’t pay until the work is done.
• Hire a money manager and speak to a lawyer about an estate plan if dealing with your daily finances is too much for you to handle.
Where can I get help?
• NH Bureau of Elderly and Adult Services: Adult Protective Services Central Intake: 1-800-949-0470
• Elder Abuse and Exploitation Unit of NH Attorney General: 603-271-3658
• Your local Police Department
• NH Legal Assistance’s Justice in Aging Project: 1-888-353-9944 Provides free civil legal help to persons age 60 and older.
• ServiceLink Aging and Disability Resource Center: 1-866-634-9412 Provides free information and referrals for older adults and people with disabilities.
• 2-1-1 New Hampshire: Dial 2-1-1. Connects callers to information about available health and human services.
• 603 Legal Aid: 800-639-5290 provides free legal information, advice and referrals to low-income people.