Scams & Exploitation - What You Need to Know About Elder Financial Abuse

Older woman looking at financials

According to the American Bankers Association, Americans over 50 years old control more than 70 percent of the nation's wealth. Put into real terms, this group is set to pass to their children more than $68 trillion; the largest transfer of generational wealth in history. Unfortunately this has bred a new type of thief, scammers who seek to exploit and steal from the elderly.

Put simply, elder financial abuse is when a thief seeks to control or misuse a person's assets. This can happen in any number of ways, but if you have a family member who is elderly, then there are some signs you should watch for including: 

  • Abnormal banking activity, especially withdrawals that can't be explained 
  • New people in the elderly person's life who take an interest in their finances
  • Inexplicable fluctuations in cash on hand
  • Closing or opening of accounts, including certificates of deposit 

What you can do:

  • Encourage them to be as transparent with you as they are comfortable being regarding their finances. 
  • They should meet with their financial planner and create a detailed plan for the future and you as caregiver should be part of that process. This will ensure that significant deviations will be noticed and hopefully acted upon.
  • Review with them some financial best practices such as never revealing personal information to strangers, never to cash checks from an unknown source and that if they are ever confused about a financial question to ask someone – you or your banker.  
  • Regularly monitor their credit report and check for irregularities. 

If you suspect someone is suffering from elder financial abuse, contact the police and your area's social services for advice. It is of course best to avoid these situations in the first place, and the best way to do that is not only with strong family connections, but with community connections as well, including your local bank. Read more in our Financial Caregiving leaning modules.

Visit the $tation for financial planning suggestions. 

Questions? Contact us today at 800.399.5919 or visit a Sandy Spring Bank branch near you to discuss your banking needs.

This publication does not constitute legal, accounting or other professional advice. Although it is intended to be accurate, neither the publisher nor any other party assumes liability for loss or damage due to reliance on this material.