Financial abuse of the elderly can have devastating consequences.

By recognizing signs that someone is being targeted you can stop problems that include financial accounts being drained, bills going unpaid, and identity theft.

People who take advantage of older adults can include fraudsters, service providers, friends, and even family.

As a trusted family member or friend, it’s important that you are aware of some of the financial abuse warning signs and what to do if you notice a problem.

Financial exploitation can include:

  • Unexplained, large or regular withdrawals or transfers from accounts.
  • Missing belongings or financial documents.
  • Unpaid bills or threats to shut off utilities due to someone taking that money.
  • Missing checks or ones made out to unknown people.

Whether it’s through email or a knock on the door, scammers target the elderly in a variety of ways.

Here are some to be aware of:

  • Identity theft. Fraudsters often use email or phone calls to try to trick people into divulging account numbers or other personal information that can be used to take money or apply for loans.
  • Mail fraud. This type of theft can be were people steal checks or other import mail that can then be used for the wrong purposes.
  • Service scams. This is where someone can trick a person into unnecessary, costly repairs, or demand payment and then disappear without doing any work.
  • Fake charities or religious solicitations. These scammers often rely on the kindness or fears of their elderly targets in order to trick them out of money.

Here are some things you can do if you believe a person is being targeted for financial abuse:

  • If you are a trusted family member or friend, let the elderly person know that you are looking out for their best interests, and if you notice something that could be a sign of trouble, you will ask them about it.
  • Report suspected abuses to your state’s Adult Protective Services department or the state attorney general’s office.
  • File a report with a local law enforcement agency.
  • Report suspected account abuses to the person’s financial institution immediately.

Remember, you can make a difference.