Taking a Stand Against Elder Financial Abuse: Here’s How To

While each case of elder abuse is unique, common red flags include uncharacteristic attempts to wire large sums, suspicious signatures on checks, or outright forgery. Other warning signs may be a change in living arrangements, …

Taking a Stand Against Elder Financial Abuse: Here's How To

While each case of elder abuse is unique, common red flags include uncharacteristic attempts to wire large sums, suspicious signatures on checks, or outright forgery. Other warning signs may be a change in living arrangements, frequent visitors or phone calls from strangers, and new powers of attorney without the older person’s knowledge.


The incidence of elder financial abuse is difficult to establish because it frequently goes unreported and because definitions vary by state. Some states require that perpetrators use dishonest tactics, while others simply assert that the victim is manipulated or deceived. A typical indicator is a deviation from an older person’s usual banking behavior. Abuse may also be suggested by unexplained withdrawals from or transfers between bank accounts, erratic or unusual activity, or sudden or excessive activity.

There are many reasons that older adults become targets for financial exploitation. Some of these reasons focus on the perpetrator’s relationship with the victim. For example, perpetrators often feel a sense of entitlement to the elder’s assets, and they may try to hide their actions behind the notion that the transfer was made with the victim’s “tacit” consent.

Furthermore, heirs are more prone than other relatives to participate in financial exploitation, according to some studies. You can collect evidence of fraud or theft against seniors with the assistance of anĀ elder financial abuse attorney Portland OR. They’ll walk you through the process of gathering evidence and how it should be presented.


Financial abuse of older people is often a complex issue to address. Although some states have criminal laws that specifically target the economic exploitation of the elderly, no empirical evidence suggests these statutes result in increased prosecutions or deterrence. In addition, a variety of behaviors can indicate the possibility of such abuse.

These include a change in the person’s usual spending habits, a refusal to visit with relatives and other friends, an unusual desire for privacy, uncharacteristic nonpayment for health care services, defensiveness during doctor visits and phone calls, and a general decline in the person’s physical or mental health.

Because it is difficult to establish proof of abuse and because perpetrators can spend or dissipate assets before a report is made, preventive measures are preferred. In some states, financial professionals are mandated reporters and can place holds on problematic disbursements when they suspect financial exploitation. In some instances, this is enough to halt the abuse.

As the baby boomers age, it’s essential to recognize that financial exploitation is a growing concern. While many people think of elderly exploitation in terms of scams, the fact is that, more commonly, elders are exploited by those close to them. Family members, friends, and caregivers are often the perpetrators in these cases.

A widely cited reason for the prevalence of elder financial abuse is that persons over 50 control 70 percent of the nation’s wealth. Other factors that are frequently mentioned include an increase in the number of people that the older adult depends on for daily living needs, changes in the elderly’s sense of well-being, and a lack of social activity.

There are also several other signs of potential financial abuse that should be watched for, including illegitimate transactions, a change in the victim’s power of attorney, and the receipt of large gifts from someone with whom the elder is suspicious. In some states, certain professionals are mandated reporters of suspected elder abuse, and financial institutions have implemented new rules that allow them to put holds on disbursements when they suspect exploitation.


Financial abuse can take many forms. It can involve stealing cash or checks, forging signatures, or using power of attorney to authorize inappropriate financial transactions. Older adults without family nearby and those who have memory problems or dementia are especially vulnerable to exploitation. Often, the perpetrators of these crimes are relatives or paid in-home caregivers. According to a report by the National Elder Abuse Inquiry System (NEAIS), more than 90 percent of victims of this form of abuse are women.

It is often difficult to know when an older adult is being exploited. Still, some indicators may include an unusual increase in money being wired, a suspicious signature on a check, or an uncharacteristic reluctance to talk about finances. Other possible warning signs are an apparent need for urgent medical attention notwithstanding the availability of financial resources, unexplained unpaid bills or utility discontinuation notices, and a failure to attend doctor appointments. Also, a sudden lack of access to an older person’s bank account may be a sign of abuse.

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