Financial abuse is a common issue faced by many elderly people today. Access to others online allows scammers to connect with less internet savvy elderly people, which can be a recipe for disaster. But unfortunately, not all financial abuse takes place online; and your loved one can fall prey to it in a number of ways. Most cases of Financial Elder Abuse go unreported. It is estimated that only 1 in 44 cases are reported, according to the National Adult Protective Services Association.

Diminished Mental Faculties

Some people might attempt to take advantage of elderly people as their mental faculties begin to fade. A forgetful senior might be asked to write a check or fill out a bank withdrawal form without really understanding what is happening. An abuser can take advantage of an elderly or disabled person and exploit them for funds without the victim being fully aware of the situation.

Limited Computer Knowledge

Scammers online can very easily take advantage of elderly people who don’t fully know how to safely navigate online. Many elderly individuals don’t understand the difference between a safe website and a potentially dangerous one. Websites with pop-up ads and unsafe downloads can bring viruses that mine the computer for credit card numbers and other financial information. Spam emails asking for investments can also be a way that the elderly can be taken advantage of. Fake call center numbers for troubleshooting are often set up by scammers looking to gain access to your computer. It is important to speak with your loved one about online safety; and to make sure that they have a secure anti-virus software.

Phone Scammers

Many scams are still run over the phone. Scammers can make calls to people asking them to mail checks, provide credit card numbers, or to give their Social Security Number. Scammers might pretend to be from the IRS or another financial institution. Some of them will pretend that the elderly person won something, and they need personal information to give it to them.

Physical Frailty and Hired Help

If your loved one hires a plumber, or other type of labor service; it is important that you help them deal with the financial side of the deal. It is not uncommon for hired help in the labor industry to raise prices or take advantage of the elderly. Make sure that any contractors or laborers are licensed and reputable, before your loved one uses them. It can also be a good idea to be present during the work.


When an elderly person becomes less able to travel and accomplish tasks outside of the home by themselves, they often become more isolated from the world. Any stranger or neighbor can gain your loved one’s trust by befriending them. Some people try to get closer to more recluse elderly individuals in order to secure some financial gain. This gain can be anything from swiping a credit card to coercing the individual to include them in the Will.

Questionable Behavior of Relatives

Other family members can abuse your loved one financially. Be aware of questionable behaviors that might be signs that they are taking advantage of your elderly family member. Statistically speaking, family members that are more likely to take financial advantage of an elderly person are “adult children or spouses, and they are more likely to be male, to have a history of past or current substance abuse, to have mental or physical health problems, to have a history of trouble with the police, to be socially isolated, to be unemployed or have financial problems, and to be experiencing major stress,” according to the New England Journal of Medicine.
Family members with greater access to financial documents, accounts, and guardianship rights could be able to financially abuse the elderly individual. A family member financially abusing an elderly family member may influence them into granting them more of the estate in their Will.

What To Do

If you suspect that your loved one is being taken advantage of financially, don’t hesitate to confront the perpetrator, and contact the authorities. The theft should be reported to the police. In every state, and most local governments, there are social services agencies to help elderly victims of financial abuse.

Safe Harbor Healthcare Services does not provide medical, healthcare, or financial advice via articles. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for medical advice.
Safe Harbor Healthcare Services has been providing excellent home care on Staten Island since 1967. Our services help the elderly and disabled live safely and independently; while giving their families the peace of mind they need. For more information contact Safe Harbor at (718)-979-6900.