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Know the Signs of Elder Financial Abuse


Although massively underreported, financial exploitation is increasingly becoming a rampant form of abuse among aging adults, particularly those with cognitive impairments such as Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia. These crimes are now so widespread that elderly financial abuse is often called “the crime of the twenty-first century.” Unfortunately, most abusers are close friends, acquaintances, or family members who take advantage of situations of cognitive decline and diminished capacity; in fact, NAPSA reports that 90 percent of abusers are family members or other trusted individuals.

Financial abuse can take many forms, from soliciting for fake charities to telemarketing scams and identity theft. In order to protect yourself and your loved ones you need to understand the warning signs of financial elder abuse and that keeping your eyes and ears open could help prevent you or your loved ones from becoming a victim of this particularly heinous crime.

Elderly hands being carefully held by another. Know the signs of elder financial abuse blog post image.

The National Center on Elderly Abuse defines financial or material exploitation as the illegal or improper use of an elder’s funds, property or assets. Common signs of financial exploitation may include:

  • Unexpected changes in bank account balances or banking practices.
  • Allowing a new friend or trusted acquaintance to make decisions on the elderly person’s behalf.
  • Unauthorized or unexplained financial account withdrawals.
  • The disappearance of funds or valuable possessions.
  • Unanticipated transfer of assets to a family member or friend.
  • Sudden changes to a will or other important financial documents.

Millions of older Americans become victims of financial fraud each year.

  • 10,000 Americans turn 65 every day.
  • Over 13% of older Americans become victims of financial fraud every year.
  • Of those who are subject to a fraud attempt, 25% with become a fraud victim.
  • Older adults lose more than $3 billion annually to financial scams.

If you suspect elder abuse or financial exploitation of a family member or loved one contact your local department of health and human services.

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