We trust nursing homes to care for our loved ones. That's why financial exploitation of nursing home residents can be so disturbing. Instead of taking care of residents, some nursing homes steal from some of society's most vulnerable people.
But spotting victims of nursing home financial exploitation isn't as easy as you might think. So what should you look for? And what should you do? Here's some helpful advice from an experienced nursing home abuse attorney at Shuttlesworth Law Firm, LLC who has handled these complicated cases.
Common ways nursing homes financially exploit residents
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) compiled an extensive report about the financial exploitation of residents in nursing homes. According to the report, financial exploitation in the United States accounts for $2.9 billion each year. The study also noted that "financial exploitation is the most common form of elder abuse." Even more disturbingly, the study noted that "many experts believe the true cost is much higher."
Some forms of financial exploitation committed by nursing homes and assisted living facilities include:
- Overcharging residents for items
- Charging residents multiple times for the same items
- Charging residents for items or services not provided
- Increasing prices of items or services without telling residents
- Using residents' credit cards without permission
- Outright stealing money from residents. This includes:
- Taking cash from residents' rooms
- Taking money from residents' checking accounts
- Writing fake checks from residents' checking accounts
This is just a small sampling of the different ways that nursing homes steal or overcharge from residents. That's why it's critical that you know what to look for in order to stop such criminal activity.
Warning signs that something's wrong
So how do you know if financial exploitation is occurring at the nursing home caring for your loved one? These are some of the telltale signs that something may be wrong:
- Sudden changes in checking account balance.
- Unexplained bills from the nursing home.
- Notices from billing companies for unpaid bills.
- Harassing phone calls from bill collectors.
- Visiting hours at nursing home are suddenly restricted.
- The nursing home prevents you from being able to visit your loved one.
- The nursing home does not return your emails or phone calls.
Be sure to keep all unexplained bills or notices. Such information can be critical pieces of evidence. And the more information you have, the better.
What to do if you suspect financial exploitation
Don't underestimate the seriousness of the problem. If something seems wrong, take action. We strongly advise you to take the following steps if you suspect a loved one is the victim of financial exploitation:
- Call the police. Tell them what's going on and ask them to investigate.
- Contact us. We can help you every step of the way.
- Save all bills, letters, and other correspondence from the nursing home.
- Save all unexplained or unusual bills from other companies.
- Call the companies sending you the bills and ask them to explain why it was sent.
Handling such complex cases can be overwhelming. But it's important to take legal action for two main reasons. One, your loved one should not be financially victimized. Two, by taking legal action, you will likely be helping other residents at the same facility. Odds are your loved one is not the only victim. The nursing home is likely targeting other residents or maybe even all of them.
Financial exploitation is a fancy term for stealing. Put a stop to such criminal activity. Schedule a free case evaluation with us and put a stop to such crimes. An Alabama nursing home abuse attorney at our law firm can answer your questions and demand justice for your family. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.