Did you know that according to the SEC, fraudsters targeting seniors in the U.S. steal upwards of $2.9 billion annually? We’re all taught to respect our elders, but apparently, scammers never got the message. Understanding and preventing financial elder abuse is crucial to protect our loved ones and ensure their financial security.

What is Financial Elder Abuse?

Financial elder abuse refers to the exploitation or manipulation of older adults for monetary gain. This abuse can result in significant emotional, physical, and financial harm. It can occur in various settings, including homes, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities, and can be perpetrated by family members, friends, professionals, or strangers.

Common Types of Financial Elder Abuse

⚕️ Healthcare Insurance Scams Fraudsters exploit seniors by offering fake insurance policies or charging for services that were never provided.

💊 Counterfeit Prescription Drug Schemes Scammers sell counterfeit drugs that can be ineffective or harmful, preying on seniors' healthcare needs.

❤️ Romance Scams Emotional manipulation through online relationships leads to financial exploitation, with scammers convincing seniors to send money.

🚨 Person-in-Need Scams Imposters pose as distressed relatives needing immediate financial help, often requesting money transfers.

🏆 Lottery Scams Seniors are falsely informed that they've won a lottery and must pay fees or taxes to claim their prize.

🏠 Funeral and Cemetery Scams Scammers exploit grieving families by overcharging for services or selling nonexistent plots.

☎️ Telemarketing/Phone Scams Scammers use phone calls to solicit donations for fake charities or sell fraudulent products and services.

📈 Investment Schemes Fraudulent investment opportunities are presented to seniors, promising high returns with little risk.

Warning Signs of Financial Elder Abuse

  • Unusual Banking Activity: Sudden changes in bank accounts or large, unexplained withdrawals.
  • Unauthorized Transactions: ATM cards being used without permission or unauthorized credit card charges.
  • Changes in Financial Documents: Abrupt changes in wills, trusts, or other legal documents.
  • Unexplained Disappearance of Funds: Missing funds or valuable possessions.
  • Poor Financial Management: Bills left unpaid despite having adequate financial resources.
  • Appearance of New Friends/Relatives: Sudden involvement of new individuals in the elder’s financial affairs.

Steps to Safeguard Against Financial Elder Abuse

  • Designate a Trusted Contact Choose a trusted contact so that financial institutions know who to contact in case of suspected exploitation.
  • Get Organized Keep a record of your accounts, update your will regularly, set up trusts and powers of attorney, and ensure insurance beneficiaries are up-to-date.
  • Guard Your Passwords Create unique passwords for each account and change them regularly. Never share account details. Learn more about digital banking today.
  • Be Smart with Your Smartphone Let unknown numbers go to voicemail and join the National Do Not Call Registry to reduce unwanted calls.
  • Become Tech Savvy Take a look at our blog to read resources on digital literacy and cyber security.

How to Recognize and Respond to Elder Abuse

Physical and Emotional Signs Look for signs such as unexplained bruises, withdrawal from social activities, or sudden changes in behavior.

Reporting Abuse If you suspect elder abuse, report it to Adult Protective Services (APS) or contact the National Elder Fraud Hotline at 1-833-FRAUD-11.

Resources for Help For non-life-threatening emergencies, call the Eldercare Locator helpline at 1-800-677-1116. Visit the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA) website for more information on how to report suspected abuse.

Let’s Work Together to Protect the Vulnerable

Protecting our elders from financial abuse is a shared responsibility. By staying informed and vigilant, we can help safeguard their financial well-being. Encourage your loved ones to take proactive steps and utilize available resources to protect themselves from financial exploitation.

Opening a checking account with First Bankers Trust is a great first step in securing your finances. With features like secure online banking, account monitoring, and personalized financial advice, we are here to help you protect your assets and ensure peace of mind.

Open a Checking Account Today

Hotlines and Websites

  • National Elder Fraud Hotline: 1-833-FRAUD-11
  • Eldercare Locator: 1-800-677-1116
  • National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA)

By understanding and addressing the risks of financial elder abuse, we can create a safer environment for our older loved ones. Let's work together to protect their financial security and well-being.