A Deal Too Good to Be True: Financial Exploitation Scams

Seniors are particularly vulnerable to financial exploitation because they have accumulated a lot of wealth over their lifetime and they can be subject to memory problems or dementia, which can cause them to be easily coerced.  Although the news often reports mailer scams as the culprit of senior citizen exploitation, it is important to remember that an abuser can be ANYONE and often it is the ones closest to the older adult, such as caretakers, relatives, or “friends.”

15 Warning Signs of Financial Exploitation:

  • Large and increased, unexplained withdrawals of money from their bank account;
  • Sudden changes in their financial situation (they are unable to pay their bills);
  • A new friend isolates them from long-time family and friends;
  • Changes in powers of attorney, will, deeds, property titles or other legal documents;
  • Unnecessary purchases;
  • A stranger offers investment advice or an “investment opportunity” that can’t be missed;
  • Financial records go missing;
  • Victim is asked to risk assets by co-signing a loan, providing collateral or giving access to their personal accounts;
  • Win a “prize” that requires a large amount of taxes to be paid up front;
  • Dissapearance of valuables;
  • Victim receives unsolicited telemarketing calls or mailers requesting bank account, credit card, or social security number;
  • A stranger is added to their accounts;
  • Applies for a credit card for the first time; or
  • Appears to have signed a document but it looks forged (ex: Suspicious signatures on checks)

If you are the primary caretaker of an older adult, be aware of the warning signs of financial exploitation. Often, the elderly person will not realize they are being exploited or not want to turn the exploiter in for fear of being alone. They also may be embarrassed or ashamed that they were tricked. It is hard to prove that your loved one is being financially exploited. Therefore, if any warning signs  arise, you should consult an elder law attorney immediately before the damage becomes worse.

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