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Elder Financial Abuse

Elder financial abuse occurs when someone takes another person's money or property for the benefit of someone other than that person. In most cases, it is by someone they know, like friends, family, caregivers, neighbors, and professionals, and can be prevented before it starts.

Fraud Reporting Resources

Be on alert and protect yourself from fraud

Elder Financial Abuse

While elder financial abuse is the most common form of elder abuse, it’s sadly also the least reported. Elder abuse is likely to continue to grow just as the elderly population increases.

Here are some potential red flags to look out for:

  • Unusual banking activity: This could include large, frequent, or unexplained withdrawals, missed benefit deposits, unexplained transfers, suspicious purchases, or wire transfers. ATM withdrawals by an older person who has never used a debit or ATM card.
  • Insufficient funds: The older adult’s bank account suddenly doesn’t contain enough money to cover transactions.
  • Unexpected credit card balances or loans: The vulnerable adult’s signature could be forged, or the property refinanced with a significant cash out option.
  • Sudden changes in a will or other financial documents: If a financial institution or credit card statement stops showing up in the mail or unexplained changes on an older adult’s will, trust, or other financial document, this may be a sign of trouble.
  • Disappearance of valuables: Jewelry and other valuable property go missing.

Visit the Justice Department's website for a comprehensive list of warning signs of elder abuse.

Tips To Avoid Fraud

You can help prevent elder abuse by educating yourself on the warning signs and being an advocate. If you have an older person in your life, stand up for them and ensure they aren’t being abused or exploited. Below are some valuable tips to help safeguard seniors from falling victim to financial exploitation:

  • Maintain regular contact with your loved ones to prevent them from being isolated. Stay connected through frequent visits, phone calls, video chats, emails, and text messages.
  • Get to know your loved one's caregivers and anyone showing an unusual interest in their finances. Being aware of who is involved can help protect them from potential exploitation.
  • Set up safeguards at financial institutions. Sign up for account alerts, enroll in eStatements, and establish direct deposit to minimize the risk of fraudulent activities.
  • Create a plan while your loved one is still mentally sharp. Designate a trusted individual to oversee their bank accounts, investments, wills and trusts, beneficiaries, power of attorney, health care directives, property titles, deeds, and other essential documents.
  • Inventory valuables to prevent theft and help facilitate distributing their possessions later.
  • Keep them informed about common scams and fraudulent tactics, empowering them to recognize and avoid potential threats.

Additional Fraud Resources

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