Elder Financial Abuse

Elderly citizens are prime targets for elder financial abuse and  nursing home abuse. Oftentimes, an elderly person might suffer a disease that limits their memory or may dependent on third parties for help with their financial affairs. These scenarios often jointly contribute to this segment of the American population being targeted by thieves often looking to take advantage of accumulated life savings that senior citizens often have. Some indicators of elder financial abuse might include a sudden or unexplained inability to pay  upcoming bills or there may be many unexplained withdrawals from an elder’s bank account. Family members and concerned friends should be on the lookout for these signs especially when a senior is in a nursing home. Elder financial abuse can be stopped if it is noticed early.

Elder Financial Abuse and Exploitation may include:

1. Breaches of fiduciary relationships, such as the misuse of a power of attorney or the abuse of guardianship duties, resulting in the unauthorized appropriation, sale, or transfer of property.

2. Unauthorized taking of personal assets is elder financial exploitation

3. Misappropriation, misuse, or transfer of moneys belonging to a vulnerable adult from a personal or joint account; or

4. Intentional or negligent failure to effectively use a vulnerable adult’s income and assets for the necessities required for that person’s support and maintenance could be considered elder financial abuse.

Specific Examples of Elder Financial Abuse:

  • Fake Prizes, Sweepstakes, and Lottery Scams
  • Fraudulent Investments
  • Giving Away Possessions
  • Inexplicable credit card transactions.
  • Fake Charities Asking for Contributions
  • Unnecessary Home and Automobile Repairs
  • Misusing ATM Card and Bank Account
  • Heavy Selling Pressure on Loans and Mortgages
  • Selling too much health, funeral, and life insurance
  • Unregulated Heath Remedies
  • Relative borrowing money and not paying it back
  • Sudden increases in debt
  • Forged signatures on financial transactions


Who Commits Elder Financial Exploitation?

Many different types of people may be in a position to exploit a senior’s financial vulnerability. For example, friends and family may have easy access to bank accounts. Nursing home employees may be able to easily take someones physical possessions. Senior citizens living alone may be easily susceptible to door to door salesman and telemarketers.

Many elderly victims of financial abuse do not report the fraud because they feel ashamed and are worried about what other parties will think. Consequently, when elderly victims do report fraud or financial exploitation immediately, the subsequent investigation is much more difficult. People that are close to senior citizens should monitor there finances and ensure that no fraud is currently ongoing.

If a nursing home employee is taking advantage of an elderly person in their care, there may be a chance of a nursing home negligence lawsuit.  The nursing home would be negligent because they failed to properly screen their employees who committed fraud against the resident. Each state has different laws and legal practices in this area. Consulting with a specialized attorney would be the best course of action.


Sources and Additional References on Elder Financial Exploitation:

National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse – Financial Abuse

FinCEN Advisor Committee on Elder Financial Exploitation