5 tips on how to spot elder financial abuse

June 15, 2020

 

Financial fraud is a particularly devious form of elder abuse, to both the victim’s bank account and psychological well-being. According to the Department of Justice, over 13% of older Americans fall victim to financial fraud each year.

Elder Financial Abuse
 
However, only 1 in 44 cases of financial abuse is ever reported. Why is that? It could be due to confusion or memory loss, or it could just be that they do not notice. Often, it’s caused by embarrassment, not wanting to get someone in trouble or the fear that reporting the fraud will lead to reduced independence.
If you see something, say something. To spot financial abuse, keep an eye out for sudden changes in the older person’s financial situation, such as:
  1. They’re being coached – Out of the blue, a grandchild or new caregiver is joining them at the bank or speaking on their behalf.
  2. Impossible financial activity – A statement reveals ATM withdrawals, but the account holder hasn't left home.
  3. Significant withdrawals or unusual purchases – You notice credit card charges or cash withdrawals that are out of character.
  4. Missing jewelry – A broach they always wear to church, a necklace habitually worn during the holidays or a ring they haven’t taken off in years is suddenly gone.
  5. Unpaid bills – When visiting a neighbor, you see mail piling up on the desk. Maybe the financial caregiver is using the money for something other than paying bills?
Unfortunately, seniors with cognitive incapacity suffer the most economic loss. There are, however, some things that you can do now for yourself or a loved one.
  • Review the controls you have in place to secure your physical documents and online activity.
  • Empower yourself: stay current by visiting Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and AARP websites.
  • Finally, protect your credit by signing up for a security freeze lock and checking your credit report at least annually.
As always, we encourage you to be an ambassador – share this information with others.
For more information on fraud, please visit our Security Center.

 

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