What is Elder Financial Abuse and How Do You Recognize It?

Elder financial abuse is anyone committing, or assisting to commit theft of embezzlement of money or any other property from an elder (65 and over) or a disabled adult (18-64). 

One of the fastest growing financial crime trends in the country today is elder financial abuse. This is a serious form of abuse as it can leave the seniors and disabled adults in our communities unable to provide for their needs and fearful of the future.

There are many reasons why the elderly are targeted by scammers: vulnerability due to grief from the loss of a spouse, family member, friend, or pet; unfamiliarity with managing financial matters and/or cognitive impairment that causes a diminished ability to make financial decisions; embarrassment, social isolation and fear of retaliation. 

The first step to protecting yourself and loved ones from being financially exploited is to be able to recognize the signs. There are many signs to be on the lookout for. Some of common signs of elder abuse include:

  • Cashing an elderly person’s checks without authorization or permission
  • Forging an elderly person’s signature
  • Misusing or stealing an older persons money or possession
  • Coercing or deceiving an elder person into signing any documents contracts or wills
  • Improper use of conservatorship, guardianship or power of attorney (POA)
  • Sudden changes in bank account or banking practice, including an unexplained withdrawal of large sums of money by a person accompanying the elder
  • The inclusion of additional names on an elder's bank signature card
  • Discovery of an elder's signature being forged for financial transactions or for the titles of his/her possessions
  • Unauthorized withdrawal of the elder's funds using the elder's ATM card
  • Abrupt changes in a will or other financial documents
  • Unexplained disappearance of funds or valuable possessions
  • Substandard care being provided or bills unpaid despite the availability of adequate financial resources
  • Sudden appearance of previously uninvolved relatives claiming their rights to an elder's affairs and possessions
  • Unexplained sudden transfer of assets to a family member or someone outside the family
  • The provision of services that are not necessary 
  • An elder's report of financial exploitation