Elderly Financial Abuse: How to Protect Your Loved Ones

elder financial abuse

It’s difficult to consider someone taking advantage of your parents, grandparents, or great grandparents, but elderly financial abuse is a far too-common reality in the United States.

In fact, according to the National Council on Aging, more than 5 million people are victims of elder abuse annually.

“The annual loss by victims of financial abuse is estimated to be at at least $36.5 billion,” according to the NCOA.

Keep reading to learn more about elderly financial abuse, scams to look out for, and ways you can protect your elderly family members.

how to protect your loved ones from elder financial abuse

What is Elderly Financial Abuse?

According to the American Bankers Association, elder financial abuse is a crime that “deprives older adults of their resources and ultimately their independence.”

These crimes can include:

  • Theft,
  • Fraud,
  • Misuse of a person’s assets or credit, and/or
  • Use of undue influence to gain control of an older person’s money or property. 

While anyone can be victims of these crimes, older individuals who have disabilities or rely heavily on others for assistance are especially prone to financial abuse.

What to Look Out For

Karen French, Vice President–Senior Retail Officer at Persons Banking Company, said romance scams are very prominent in Georgia and has even impacted PBC customers.

She remembered one customer who met her scammer while playing “Words With Friends” on her phone. He made her believe he was stranded in a foreign country and needed her to send him money in order to return home. 

Lottery Scams are also prominent. Karen said she once had an elderly customer who got a letter in the mail stating he’d won a brand new Mercedes. All he had to do was wire $40,000 to cover “fees.” 

His sons brought him to the bank to have Karen explain it was actually a scam.

“The customer would not believe me or his sons when we told him it was a scam,” Karen said. “He wired more than $40K to the scammers.”

Karen also advised customers to also look out for timeshare scams where phony representatives instruct sellers to pay a fee upfront instead of at closing.

Related: Beware of These 3 Phishing Scams

How to Protect Your Family Members

Karen said family members need to remind their relatives to never give out personal information to telemarketers or people they don’t know (either over the phone, on social media, or through email). 

She also advised customers to sign up for the Do Not Call Registry (1-800-382-1222) or at donotcall.gov. 

You should also …

  • Check statements for unusual charges
  • Advise relatives that if they receive a check in the mail to ask questions and or check with their bank before cashing them
  • Look out for sudden insufficient fund activity, unpaid bills, or checks written as loans or gifts

How Persons Banking Company Can Help

PBC is committed to protecting its older customers from financial abuse, Karen said.

The bank’s Certified Adult Crime Tactics specialist takes an annual training offered by the Georgia Department of Human Affairs. 

Additionally, each manager, personal banker, and teller take courses offered through the AARP BankSafe training program.

Lastly, employees often counsel customers of all ages about transactions that are out of the norm. 

For more information, you can also check out:

Wrapping Up

  • According to the American Bankers Association, elder financial abuse is a crime that “deprives older adults of their resources and ultimately their independence.”
  • Karen French, PBC’s Vice President–Senior Retail Officer, said romance, lottery, and timeshare scams are prominent in Georgia. 
  • To protect your elder family members check their statements for unusual charges, advise them to ask questions if they receive an unexpected check in the mail, and look out for sudden insufficient fund activity, unpaid bills, or checks written as loans or gifts

If you believe a loved one is a victim of elder financial abuse, check out:

And, as always, call your local Persons Banking Company branch for assistance. We are always happy to help.

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