Elder Financial Abuse


Click here to view the State of Michigan’s Elder Abuse Task Force brochure

It’s Your Right

Fraud Victimization

Millions of older Americans become victims of financial fraud each year:

• You are not alone

• 10,000 Americans turn 65 every day

• Over 13% of older Americans become victims of financial fraud every year

• Of those who are subject to a fraud attempt, 25% will become a fraud victim

• Older adults lose more than $3 billion annually to financial scams

Examples of fraud & scams include:

• Overcharging for products or services

• Lottery and sweepstakes fraud

• Pretend romantic attention towards an older adult

• Scammers posing as government employees telling you to pay a fee

• Someone posing to be from the information technology field offers to fix a non-existent problem with your computer

Fraud victims have been approached:

• While in the grocery store

• By knocking at the door

• Through the phone

• Through the internet

• Through the mail

If someone approaches you in any of these ways, you do not have to respond. It is ok to hang up the phone, not answer the door, not open an email or a piece of mail, or say “No, thank you” to someone approaching you in the parking lot.

Examples of financial exploitation include:

• Using ATM cards without permission

• Forging a signature on a check or property title (wills, deeds)

• Telling an older adult money is needed for college expenses when the money is really being used for other purposes

• Using a power of attorney to benefit oneself rather than the older adult

• Unauthorized sales, such as a family ring or the family farm

• Threats to harm precious property if money is not handed over

There are a number of warning signs to watch for, including:

• Sudden changes in banking practices

• Being accompanied to the bank by an unknown person

• Adding a new name on a bank signature card

• Sudden changes in a will or other financial documents

• Unexplained disappearance of funds or possessions

• Substandard care or unpaid bills when there are adequate financial resources

• Sudden appearance

There are several things you can do to help protect your money:

• Check your financial statements each month

• Store financial materials in a locked drawer or out of sight

• Give your power of attorney CFPB’s “Help For Agents Under A Power of Attorney”

• Talk to your bank about age-friendly banking options

• Contact a civil legal attorney before signing documents

• Visit ftc.gov every year to get your free credit reports

Warning Signs by Type of Abuse

Physical Abuse

  • Bruises, black eyes, welts, lacerations, or rope marks
  • Broken eyeglasses
  • Medication overdose or under-utilization of prescribed drugs
  • A sudden change in behavior

Psychological Abuse

  • Being emotionally upset, agitated, withdrawn, non-communicative, or non-responsive
  • Unusual behavior such as sucking, biting, or rocking
  • The caregiver’s refusal to allow visitors to see an older Veteran alone
  • Apologizing excessively

Sexual Abuse

  • Bruises around the breasts or genital area
  • Unexplained venereal disease or genital infections
  • Showing fear or becoming withdrawn when around a specific person
  • Unexplained blood found on sheets, linens, or clothing

Neglect and Abandonment

  • Dehydration, malnutrition, untreated bed sores, and poor personal hygiene
  • Unattended or untreated health problems
  • Unsanitary, unclean, or unsafe living conditions
  • The desertion of an older Veteran at a shopping center or other public location

Financial Abuse

  • Unexplained changes in bank accounts or banking practices
  • Abrupt changes in a will or other financial documents
  • Unexplained disappearance of funds or valuable possessions
  • Sudden unexplained transfer of assets


  • For information about the Department of
  • Justice’s Elder Justice Initiative efforts to
  • prevent and combat elder abuse visit the
  • Elder Justice website at www.elderjustice.gov