According to a recent lawsuit, Bank of America has been accused of committing elder abuse by violating its own anti-abuse policies. The case was filed by an 81-year-old woman who was exploited by an abuser. The abuser drained her bank account and was not blocked by Bank of America (BoA) officials, who ignored standard abuse protection procedures.
Situations like this are all too common. Older individuals are vulnerable to abuse and exploitation in a variety of ways. Here’s what you need to know about the Bank of America case, what this means for you, and other types of elder abuse you may not have been aware of.
The Accusations Against Bank of America
Several years ago, Mrs. Ginder, the 81-year-old plaintiff, had put her life savings in Bank of America accounts, with a total value of $175,000. Ginder was targeted by a scammer who portrayed himself as a BoA employee. The scammer informed Ginder that she needed to write checks and transfer funds to several other accounts not under her control, and she did so.
BoA opened “suspicious activity” reports on Ginder’s accounts but did nothing to stop the behavior. The bank didn’t inform Ginder of the suspicious activity, freeze her accounts or any other preventative action. Furthermore, despite the bank being told by Ginder’s daughter of the scam, the bank didn’t report the fraud to the state Department of Children and Families, as required by the Adult Protective Services Act.
As a result, Ginder has accused Bank of America of perpetuating elder abuse and failing to prevent the exploitation of vulnerable adults.
Why Bank of America’s Actions May Be Elder Abuse
Vulnerable adults are granted protections in most states that are intended to keep them from being exploited. Typically, vulnerable adults are defined as people older than 65 or disabled adults between the ages of 18 and 64. These people are considered more likely to fall victim to fraud and abuse because of physical or mental disabilities. They are typically protected by local Adult Protective Services agencies alongside specific laws and regulations designed to prevent abuse.
As a financial institution, the Bank of America is required to comply with regulations protecting vulnerable adults in every state. There is also a set of guidelines released by the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA) designed to guide institutions on preventing the exploitation and abuse of older people. These regulations and policies explain how financial institutions are supposed to react to potential instances of fraud.
In the Ginder case, the BoA not only violated the NAPSA guidelines but also its own policies regarding fraud. Both sets of policies state that a bank should attempt to contact potential victims of fraud when suspicious activity is detected and report the action to the local Adult Protective Services agency. By failing to reach Ginder about the suspicious activity reports on her accounts, the bank did not do its due diligence to prevent abuse and may therefore have been complicit in it.
Other Overlooked Types of Elder Abuse
The BoA case demonstrates that elder abuse can be much more than just physical violence. There are many forms of elder exploitation, and many of them are unfortunately ignored. Here are four other forms of abuse that older people can face that their younger family members may not recognize.
The Bank of America accusations are far from the only type of financial harm older people may face. Financial exploitation includes everything from the fraudulent withdrawals BoA customers experienced to actual theft. Other forms include:
- Scams targeting technologically illiterate elders.
- Harassing the elder into changing names on insurance, wills, or accounts.
- Selling an older person inappropriate products such as high-risk investments or high-fee loans without their full consent or through deceit.
Any of these actions take advantage of the older person’s less acute faculties for the exploiter’s personal gain.
Another form of financial abuse is specifically related to healthcare. As people get older, they need more medical support. That leads to longer bills to the patient and their insurance. Unscrupulous medical professionals may slip in charges for services or supplies they didn’t actually provide.
These healthcare workers may list additional services that aren’t necessary, or they may charge for things they were supposed to provide but didn’t. It’s critical to monitor insurance and medical bills to ensure that an older person isn’t falling victim to these fraudulent charges. You should also talk with your loved one to make sure that everything listed on the bills is actually being performed.
Many elders require care from someone else. They can’t manage their routine tasks every day, so they either move to a nursing home or get a visit from a home care nurse regularly. These assistants take on the legal responsibility of caring for the elder.
As a result, if one of these people stops helping an elder in their care, they are neglecting that person. Elder neglect includes ignoring specific basic tasks like washing or distributing medication, not performing them often enough, or otherwise not meeting the standards of care for the elder care field.
A step beyond neglect is elder abandonment. If someone responsible for the care of an elder simply stops caring for them entirely, they have abandoned them. Typically, abandonment occurs if a carer stops performing their duties without providing the elder’s family with proper notice or arranging for alternative care. Abandonment can be deadly, particularly for elders with memory problems or limited mobility.
Protect Your Elders by Getting Help
There are many types of elder abuse, and many make it hard for concerned loved ones to do anything about them. If you suspect that one of your loved ones is suffering from elder abuse, you should reach out and get help.
An elder abuse attorney will help you understand your options. Schedule your consultation with an experienced attorney to begin the process. Whether your loved one is facing financial exploitation, healthcare fraud, neglect, or abandonment, the right attorney will help you protect them. Get started today and protect your elders by getting the help you and they need.