FTC: Spotting Elder Financial Abuse
August 19, 2015
Lisa Weintraub Schifferle
Attorney, Division of Consumer and Business Education, FTC
Financial abuse can be a devastating form of elder abuse. If you’re concerned about an older friend or relative, here are some things to consider.
To spot financial abuse, look for sudden changes in the older person’s financial situation, such as:
- Suspicious changes in wills or powers of attorney – Out of the blue, your grandfather wills all of his belongings to his new nurse.
- Financial activity the person couldn’t have done herself – You discover repeated ATM withdrawals from your bedridden mother’s bank account.
- Bills not being paid – When visiting a neighbor, you see mail piling up on his desk. Maybe his caregiver is using his money for something other than paying bills.
- Significant withdrawals or unusual purchases – You notice charges for fancy electronics on your thrifty aunt’s credit card bill.
If you see these signs and you’re worried that someone’s misusing a loved one’s personal information, IdentityTheft.gov explains what steps to take.
Often, older adults are in the best position to recognize and prevent elder abuse and scams. That’s why the FTC’s Pass It On gives older adults tools to start conversations about scams and pass on their knowledge.
If you think you see elder abuse, report it. If there’s immediate physical danger, call 911. Otherwise, contact Adult Protective Services (APS). Your long-term care ombudsman may be able to help too, if the older person lives in a nursing home or assisted living. And if the financial abuse involves a scam, tell the FTC.
For more resources about elder abuse prevention, check out the federal government’s Eldercare locator.