A senior man contemplating over a stack of receipts

Financial scammers love the vulnerable – people they believe will quickly fall for their vile schemes. Swindlers often lavish their attention on one particular segment of society – the elderly. So much so, “elder financial fraud” is now a thing. This nasty con robs seniors of their personal and financial data and leaves many feeling ashamed and embarrassed for believing a scammer’s lies.

Protect aging loved ones by learning how to fight this growing crime.

What is Elder Financial Fraud?

Elder financial fraud is an financial scam targeting seniors. This often involves manipulating a senior to gain access to their bank accounts, medical benefits, property, or other assets. Crooks who perpetuate this fraud aren’t always strangers. Family members, friends, caregivers, and even healthcare providers have been known to access an older adult’s financial accounts or other sensitive information for personal gain.

Elder Financial Fraud Red Flags

Early warning signs of elder financial fraud can be subtle, but the sooner you detect a potential scheme, the less damage it can do to loved one’s finances and well-being. Stay alert to these common red flags:

  • Bank account withdrawals the senior doesn’t remember making
  • New credit cards arrive in the mail with someone else’s name on them
  • Checks written to new friends that include “happy early birthday” or another gift-related reference
  • Unexpected activity appears on the senior’s bank statement or medical benefit documents

Pay attention to changes in your senior’s routine. Some con artists persuade their victims to regularly take them to a branch location to withdraw cash.

Protect Your Senior From Fraud

Social isolation puts your senior at risk for elder financial fraud. Stay in regular contact with in-person visits and phone calls. Create an environment that encourages discussion about money and friends. Although changes to financial habits or relationships could be benign, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions – but do so with gentleness and respect.

Encourage your aging loved one to add you as a trusted contact for their financial accounts. Whomever they designate isn’t allowed to make transactions, but it could help if the financial institution cannot reach the elderly account holder or if there is concern about recent account activity.

Do Your Suspect Elder Financial Fraud?

Report your suspicions to law enforcement and adult protective service agencies. Provide as much information as possible to help the agency investigate potential elder financial fraud. Alerting officials could help stop a fraud scheme before it devastates your senior’s bank account – and their emotional well-being.

You can also reach out to a FVSBank Banker for assistance if you suspect fraudulent activities. Our bankers are trained in how to assist customers and families in these situations.