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Elder financial abuse: Red flags and what to do

When someone gains the trust of an older person and manipulates or exploits them for money, it is considered elder financial abuse. This form of financial abuse can be devastating and is more common than you may think. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 20% of people in community and institutional settings over the age of 60 experienced financial abuse in 2022. The WHO also reported that elder abuse rates rose during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Examples of elder financial abuse are stealing an elder’s valuables, taking control of an older person’s power of attorney, or using their cash or credit cards. Long-term exploitation can cause loss of life savings or leave the victim unable to cover their rent or the cost of care services. Older adults who are isolated or struggle with dementia are especially vulnerable.

These crimes are often committed by people who are close to the victim:

  • Family and friends
  • Lawyers
  • Nursing home staff and care givers

Several warning signs that an elderly person is being financially abused are:

  • Additional names on an older adult’s signature card at their financial institution
  • Unauthorized withdrawals of the older adult’s funds using their ATM card
  • Abrupt changes in a will or other financial documents
  • Unexplained disappearance of funds or valuable possessions

If you suspect that you or someone you know is being exploited financially, here’s how to help:

  • Contact us. Our experts can freeze accounts and are trained to spot the telltale signs of fund mishandling.
  • Report the abuse to your state’s Adult Protective Services. They serve older adults and adults with disabilities who need help due to abuse, neglect, or exploitation. Make a report.
  • Report the abuse to local police or the district attorney's office and ask them to prosecute the criminal who is financially exploiting you or someone you know.

When it comes to elder financial abuse the best four things you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones are:

  1. Prevent
  2. Recognize
  3. Record
  4. Report

Finally, remember that NorthCountry has your back and if anything goes wrong in your or a loved-one's financial life, reach out to us.