Protecting the Elderly From Financial Abuse
Scammers and criminals frequently target people 50 years and older for financial abuse. Elder financial abuse is a crime that deprives older adults of their resources and independence. This cost seniors nearly $3 billion in 2021. But despite the threat, there are steps seniors and their loved ones can take to safeguard their wealth and independence.
Tips for Seniors
Protect yourself from financial abuse with these steps.
● Carefully choose a trustworthy person as your estate agent.
● Plan with someone from your financial institution, an attorney, or a financial advisor about the best options for you.
● Never give personal information, including your Social Security Number, account numbers, or other financial information, unless you initiated the call and can trust the other party.
● Never pay a fee or taxes to collect sweepstakes or lottery “winnings.”
Financial abuse is intimidating. But there are people you can talk to for help, including a trusted family member or clergyperson, your attorney, doctor, banker, Adult Protective Services, or your local police.
Tips for Family Members
Watch for these red flags and warning signs of financial abuse of an older person in your life.
● Unusual activity in an older person’s bank accounts: Large, frequent or unexplained withdrawals or transfers between accounts that the customer cannot explain. Sudden insufficient funds or unpaid bills.
● Sudden changes in how an older person uses the bank: ATM withdrawals by someone who has never used an ATM, enrolling in complicated services, and changing bank statement addresses.
● Sudden changes in attitude regarding banking: Confusion, fear or lack of awareness. Refusal to make eye contact, shame, or reluctance to talk about the problem on the part of an older customer.
Suspect Financial Abuse of an Older Person?
● Talk to elderly friends or loved ones if you see any of the signs mentioned here.
● Try to determine what is happening with their financial situation, such as a new person “helping” them with money management or a relative using credit cards without their permission.
● Report the elder financial abuse to their bank, and enlist their banker’s help to stop it and prevent its recurrence.
● Contact Adult Protective Services in your town or state for help.
● Report all instances of elder financial abuse to your local police—if fraud is involved, they should investigate.
Content provided by the American Bankers Association.