Preventing Elder Financial Abuse

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:


of an elderly person’s signature to gain financial access

An elder's

report of being financially exploited

Misusing or stealing

an older person's money or possession

Abrupt changes

in a will or other financial documents

The provision

of services that are not necessary 


withdrawal of the elder's funds using the elder's ATM card


disappearance of funds or valuable possessions

The inclusion

of additional names on an elder's bank signature card

Coercing or deceiving

an elder person into signing any documents, contracts or wills


an elderly person’s checks without authorization or permission

Improper use

of conservatorship, guardianship or power of attorney (POA)


care being provided or bills unpaid despite the availability of adequate financial resources


sudden transfer of assets to a family member or someone outside the family


of an elder's signature being forged for financial transactions or for the titles of his/her possessions

Sudden appearance

of previously uninvolved relatives claiming their rights to an elder's affairs and possessions

Sudden changes

in bank account or banking practice, including an unexplained withdrawal of large sums of money by a person accompanying the elder

Tech Support Scams

Scammers imitate legitimate tech support services and trick their victims into sending payments, often in the form of gift cards or money transfers, to "reactivate" services. This is one of the most popular scams, as nearly 20,000 people fell victim to this style of scam.

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Digital Fraud Scams

This category includes various subcategories such as data breach, credit card fraud, identity theft, spoofing, phishing, and cryptocurrency. It's a basket of scams and hacking that may include promises that are too good to be true. In some cases, the abuse occurs behind the scenes and is only discovered when banks start sending bills for newly opened credit cards or existing cards are maxed out despite not being used.

Romance Scams

These scams take advantage of the epidemic of loneliness among seniors. By pretending to be a trustworthy friend or potential lover, the scammer builds a relationship with the victim and takes advantage of that emotional connection to get them to send thousands of dollars.

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Did You Know?

Scammers typically have a pre-established or trusted relationship, such as family members, caregivers, friends, neighbors, professional connections or acquaintances.


Did You Know?

It's critical to understand who may be a vulnerable target, types of elder financial abuse, and how to protect the financial wellbeing you or a loved one have built.

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Did You Know?

These crimes are so widespread that elderly financial abuse is often called “the crime of the twenty-first century.” One in nine seniors has reported being exploited.

Tips and Tricks to Prevent Elder Financial Abuse

Scams are most effective when they operate in haste and in darkness. Often, a second set of eyes and looking over the facts involved are enough to break through the scam and reveal the truth. The following tips and tricks will protect most seniors against elder fraud.

Don't get pressured and take their word for it

Scammers pressure their victims to act fast and to believe the story they're telling. The scam often falls apart on a quick investigation, such as calling the company that the scammer is pretending to represent or calling a family member. Even if the scammer puts on a good act, this verification step can undo the whole game.

If it's too good to be true, it probably is

If someone is claiming to have fallen in love after a few conversations, or have a great investment opportunity, or a guaranteed fortune available with some magical cryptocurrency, then it's probably a scam. Always make sure to get a friend or family member to look over the messages to check for anything fishy.

Stay up to date on credit report

While the other two tips will prevent most scam-based fraud, there's still the risk of digital fraud happening through a data breach or computer hack. Regularly checking credit reports, bank statements, and credit card statements and monitoring accounts online on a weekly or biweekly basis can catch most other frauds before they become serious problems and may increase the odds of getting reimbursed.

Where to go for Help

If financial abuse is suspected in a Mechanics Bank account, report the information to our Customer Care Center at 800.797.6324 or by visiting any Branch for assistance. If the loss involves credit products, such as a credit card or loan, contact the creditor immediately. Remember that you may not be responsible for credit card charges or payments out of your bank account if you did not authorize them. For more information go to

In most instances of suspected elder abuse, including financial exploitation, you should contact Adult Protective Services. Visit to find your local office.

If the older person is in danger or you believe a crime has been committed, call 911 for an immediate response from the police. For cases of identity theft, contact your local police and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at 877.438.4338 or