Elder abuse is the intentional or neglectful act by a trusted individual or caregiver that can lead to the harm of a vulnerable elder.1 Financial exploitation of elders occurs when a trusted caregiver illegally takes, misuses, or conceals funds, property, or assets of a vulnerable elder.2 Given their age and increased dependency on others, older adults are often more vulnerable and a target of criminals as they tend to have more financial assets.3
Who is at Risk?
Elder abuse can affect people of all backgrounds and socioeconomic statuses. A senior may be at greater risk of financial abuse if they:4
- Live primarily alone
- Experience consistent loneliness
- Have lost a loved one recently
- Suffer from physical or mental disabilities
Cases are more predominant when elders suffer from dementia or another mental capacity weakening their ability to make sound financial decisions. According to the National Adult Protective Services Association, one in twenty adults have indicated some form of perceived financial mistreatment in the recent past.5
Scams and Fraud Targeting Seniors
Taking advantage of their potential vulnerability, criminals often target the elderly in the form of scams, fraud, and misleading marketing. In some cases, an offender will call, email, or send a letter with the intent to mislead the victim and ask for personal financial information.5
Additional scams can include:
- Fraudulent investment or insurance schemes
- Fake “sweepstakes” that the person must pay a fee to collect the winnings
- Medical billing scams or unnecessary medical care
- Predatory or unnecessary lending
- Fraudulent contracts
Warning Signs of Elder Financial Abuse
Financial exploitation can take on many forms. While a majority of victims are manipulated by a person they have a trusted relationship with, scams and fraud by strangers are also very common.5
Common signs of elder financial abuse to watch for:
- Bank activity including withdrawals and charges the victim can’t explain
- Missing property including items or cash from their home
- Potentially forged signatures on financial documents and checks
- Changes in wills, titles, etc.
- Unpaid/overdue bills when they have the means to pay them
Only 1 in 44 financial elder abuse cases are reported.6 Financial abuse can be prevented. If you suspect you or someone you know has been the victim of financial abuse, contact your local police department immediately. Additionally, you can find assistance in your area at using the ElderCare Locator.
If you suspect any fraud in your General Electric Credit Union (GECU) account(s), please reach out to us immediately at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 513.243.4328/800.542.7093 and ask to speak with someone in the fraud department.
1 Aging In Place Guide to Recognizing Elder Abuse and Knowing Your Rights
2 Administration for Community Living Older Americans Act
3 Find Law Elder Financial Abuse and Exploitation
4 Money Management International Warning Signs of Financial Elder Abuse
5 National Adult Protective Services Association Elder Financial Exploitation
6 National Adult Protective Services Association Help in Your Area