Financial Elder Abuse: Warning Signs and How to Stop It

Elder abuse has been an increasing trend over the past few decades, within roughly one in ten Americans over 60 years of age experiencing elder abuse, whether it be financial, harassment, sexual, physical, or passive abuse through neglect or deprivation. Of the elders subjected to abuse, over 90% of those Americans are abused by someone they know, either a family member, friend, acquaintance, medical staff employee, or caretaker.

Predators seek out opportunities with the elderly in order to become involved in their lives and then later exploit them in their most vulnerable state. Often times, an individual will claim to be helping the elder individual, either by assisting in caretaking or house keeping, and then will later bill them for an exorbitant amount of money or get ahold of their checking account to pay themselves.


Warning Signs

Financial elder abuse can happen in a number of ways, from scams by strangers and professionals to exploitation by a close family member who is suddenly in dire need of money. Elder financial abuse can happen in a number of ways, the following are some examples of situations that may raise questions about the elder’s well being:

  • The elderly person is contacted that they have won a lottery or sweepstakes prize and must send a wire transfer or money order to obtain the prize,
  • Door to door home repair who offer cheap pricing on the spot,
  • Utility companies either entering the home or distracting the individual in order for an accomplice to case the property,
  • Telemarketing scams,
  • Internet scams that tell the elder person their bank account has been compromised and they must enter all their information to stop it,
  • Pyramid schemes telling the person they can earn a large amount of money if they join a program and then end up abandoning the person after payment is received,
  • Inappropriate lending practices by banks or financial institutions,
  • Family members using the elder persons ATM card for personal matters,
  • Abusing previously elected power of attorney in order to control the elder person’s finances as well as their own, and
  • In home care services or hospice overcharging for procedures and routine measures, thus exploiting the elder person.


If you have witnessed any of these situations, you should immediately report the individual and help the elder person take precautionary measures in order to secure their finances. It is very difficult to get previously spent money reimbursed by credit card companies when there is a situation in which you may have permitted an individual to use your card.

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