Elder financial exploitation is a form of financial abuse that targets senior citizens. The intention of this abuse is to fraudulently take, or convince a senior to give, their financial resources.
According to the National Adult Protective Services Association, elder financial exploitation takes many forms. While it’s easy to believe that those targeting seniors are strangers, it’s often someone who is a trusted member of the senior’s life. In fact, 90% of abusers are “family members or trusted others.” This could include relatives, neighbors, caretakers, friends, or professionals that a senior does business with.
Despite the increasing frequency of elder financial exploitation or abuse, the crime is commonly underreported. Research estimates that about $36 billion is lost each year due to elder financial abuse, but the “true loss is difficult to estimate,” with only 1 in 44 cases being reported.
Scams targeting seniors can vary greatly, but often include exploitation by family members, from misusing funds they’re entrusted with, to scams by unknown fraudsters, such as those claiming the senior needs to wire money to collect a lottery winning or providing fraudulent information about Medicare. To learn more about common scams targeting seniors, visit the National Adult Protective Services Association’s website.
If you think a senior you know may be a victim of elder financial exploitation, watch for some of these common signs, outlined by the Pennsylvania Department of Aging:
- Increased confusion
- Unusual withdrawals from any account
- Signing over one’s home to another
The Pennsylvania Department of Aging also offers a 24-hour hotline that allows you to report elder financial exploitation. Visit their website to learn more.
For more information about how to identify scams and keep your money safe, visit the Financial Security section of our blog.