Elder Financial Abuse, what is it, how could this affect someone I love, and what can I do about it? These are all important questions that have a heavy impact on our older population and crucial to be informed about. According to the American Bankers Association, Elder Financial Abuse can be defined as, “a crime that deprives older adults of their resources and ultimately their independence. It can be theft, fraud, misuse of a person’s assets or credit, or use of undue influence to gain control of an older person’s money or property.”
A main reason the elderly population may be targeted for these types of scams and financial theft is due to advances in technology. Advances in technology make it difficult to know who to trust and what programs are safe to be entering personal information. Additionally, older Americans may have disabilities or rely on others for help which can make them more susceptible to scams and other fraud. A few ways that seniors can protect themselves include never giving out your social security number or account numbers over the phone, ordering yearly copies of your credit report to ensure accuracy, and choosing a trustworthy person to manage your finances and estate.
As a concerned family member or friend with Elder Financial Abuse happening to your loved one, a key way to spot the abuse is a change in said person’s established financial patterns. Signs of these may include, large or unexplained withdrawals, new “friends or partners” accompanying an elderly person to the bank, or attempts to wire funds. For a more detailed list of red flags click here.
When Elder Financial Abuse is suspected there are a few steps you should take. The first one being talk to your loved one. Ask them about who may have access to their finances or any phone calls/websites that they have given their personal information out to. Other steps you can take include reporting elder financial abuse to their financial institution, contacting Adult Protective Services, or reporting all instances to your local police.