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August 18, 2020

Prevent Elder Fraud and Financial Abuse

Did you know that more than 13% of older Americans are victims of financial fraud each year? While that’s a staggering statistic, it’s even more shocking that more than 97% of these crimes go unreported. Here are a few things you can do to help prevent elder fraud and financial abuse.

How are seniors targeted?

Elder fraud and financial abuse can come in many forms. Some of the most common types of scams include:

  • Grandparent scams – Posing as a grandchild (or other relative), fraudsters contact older individuals and claim to be in trouble and needing financial help. This type of scam is usually carried out over the telephone or social media. Before transferring or wiring funds to an alleged grandchild, check in with their parents or other family members to make sure you haven’t been targeted in a scam.
  • IRS scams – Criminals posing as the IRS demand immediate payment of supposed fines or back taxes. It’s important to remember that the real IRS will never demand payment over the phone or threaten criminal charges or arrest.
  • Exploitation by family members or caregivers – This type of financial abuse occurs when trusted individuals use a victim’s debit or credit card without permission, coerce the victim to sign over property or power of attorney, or otherwise take advantage of an older person for their own financial gain.

What are the warning signs?

There are a number of warning signs for elder financial abuse and exploitation. Keep an eye out for:

  • Unusual account activity, such as large withdrawals
  • Suspicious signatures on checks
  • Missing bank statements or credit card bills; criminals sometimes cover their tracks by altering mailing addresses or stopping delivery of paper statements
  • Friends, caretakers, or relatives who take sudden interest in accompanying an older person to the bank

As an added layer of protection, MIDFLORIDA employees are specially trained to spot suspicious activity so we can intervene and prevent or stop elder fraud.

What are some methods for preventing elder financial abuse? 

Elders and their loved ones can take a number of steps to prevent financial abuse. For starters, staying up to date on common financial scams is an excellent form of protection. It’s also important for trusted loved ones to actively review all financial statements and credit card bills each month to look for unusual account activity. Reviewing the elder’s credit report on a quarterly basis can also help identify suspicious activity. Visit the Security and Fraud Info page for more tips on preventing fraud.

What if it’s too late?

Contact us immediately if you believe you’re a victim of elder financial abuse or exploitation. We’re here to help if you have any questions, need to dispute a charge, or report a lost or stolen card or checkbook.