Preventing Elder Financial Abuse (Part II)

Preventing Elder Financial Abuse

Older adults can become victims of financial abuse. Learn how you can help prevent your loved ones from being financially exploited.

Americans who are older may frequently find themselves the targets of financial abuse. Financial abuse affects thousands of older adults each year. In this article, we’ll give you some preventative tips to help protect you or a loved one from becoming a victim.

How to avoid elder financial abuse

It can be difficult to identify a scam or a situation that may have become exploitative. However, there are a few things you can look out for when somebody asks to borrow money or requests payment for a service.

Financial abuse from strangers

Oftentimes, initial contact from a scammer will use a generic greeting. It could be something like “Hello friend,” “Dear user,” or “Dear customer.” These greetings are considered generic because scammers often send emails or pieces of mail to a large number of people, hoping that a few will respond and provide the personal identification needed for the scammer to make future communications more personal.

Scammers will often pretend to represent a well-known company or a government organization. These communications may seem legitimate at first glance, but if you are not expecting an email from that company, be wary of opening any links or attachments. You might want to consider calling the company or contacting a representative you have spoken to before to confirm whether or not the request is legitimate.

Financial abuse from someone you know

Financial abuse can be all the more devastating when it comes from someone you know, such as a family member, friend or caregiver. As a general rule, you should make sure your financial documents and any valuables are stored somewhere safe when you have people visit your home. Be cautious of family members or friends who get in touch with you after a significant period of time only to ask to borrow money immediately.

General tips for avoiding financial scams

You can protect yourself from scams by being vigilant. Here are a few things you can do to lower your chances of experiencing elder financial abuse:

  • Be aware that scams exist and that not everyone is trustworthy.
  • Don’t engage with suspicious texts, pop-up windows or emails.
  • Be cautious of emails or mail with poor grammar and spelling, especially if they claim to come from a legitimate company.
  • Hang up if a caller asks to get remote access to your computer unless you have confirmed the person’s identity and are expecting such a call from a known and trusted service provider.
  • Keep your personal details private.
  • Use strong passwords to lock your mobile phone and computer, and update these passwords frequently.
  • Make your social media accounts private and only connect with people you know personally.
  • Don’t give out personal details such as credit card information, online account details or personal documents to people you don’t know or trust.
  • Pay attention to any unusual payment requests. Scammers could ask for payment in gift cards, debit cards or virtual currency like Bitcoin.
  • When shopping online, be careful of offers that seem too good to be true.

Signs of elder financial abuse

Common signs that someone is being subjected to elder financial abuse include unusual financial activity or a sudden change in spending habits. Someone who ordinarily has no issues paying their bills might start complaining about financial troubles.

If your loved one begins telling you about a new close friend that they have not met in person or says that a distant family member got in touch with them out of the blue, there’s a chance they might be a victim of confidence fraud. Advise your loved one not to lend any money to these individuals.

Other warning signs to look out for are sudden and extreme changes to wills or other financial documents.

How to report elder financial abuse

There are various ways to report elder financial abuse. Firstly, report it to your local branch of Adult Protective Services. This agency assists older adults and adults with disabilities who have experienced abuse, neglect or exploitation.

It’s also a good idea to report the financial scam to the Federal Trade Commission. If the scam was conducted via mail, you can report it to the United States Postal Inspection Service.

In some cases, you may want to call the non-emergency number for your local police station or Sheriff’s office to file a report. Fraud, theft, forgery, embezzlement and money laundering are all forms of elder financial abuse that are classified as crimes.

If you know the identity of the person who has committed elder financial abuse against you or a loved one, your local District Attorney’s office could assist you in prosecuting that person. Similarly, if a court-appointed guardian or conservator is suspected of committing elder financial abuse, the District Attorney’s office could assist in the investigation of that matter.

Sometimes an older person may experience financial abuse while staying in a long-term care facility such as a nursing home, assisted living community or other adult care community. In these cases, you’ll want to reach out to your local Long-Term Care Ombudsman. These offices are dedicated to advocating for residents of nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other adult care homes. Find your local Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program with this tool.

Before you report an incident of elder financial abuse, you will need to gather some relevant details. Agencies will often ask for the following information:

  • Times, dates and locations of the incident(s)
  • The names (and contact information, if known) of persons involved
  • A thorough description of the suspected financial abuse or any other types of abuse or neglect
  • Information about the victim’s physical and mental conditions, especially any conditions that may affect their decision-making abilities or that could cause memory loss
  • Whether there is a potential urgent risk of danger to the victim

Your bank can help protect you against fraud

Cadence Bank protects its customers with first-rate encryption, required PIN login for mobile banking and continuous surveillance of payment channels. Visit our Fraud and Security Center to learn more about how we keep your accounts and personal information safe.

Contact Cadence Bank if you have any questions about Cadence Bank's fraud prevention tactics. You can read more about personal finance in our Insights & Articles section.


This article is provided as a free service to you and is for general informational purposes only. Cadence Bank makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or timeliness of the content in the article. The article is not intended to provide legal, accounting or tax advice and should not be relied upon for such purposes.


By: Cadence Bank on Mar 6, 2024

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