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Warning Signs of Financial Elder Abuse

Published June 14, 2012

With different events to raise awareness in countries around the work, Littman Krooks LLP, has put together useful information to share with your loved ones to help spread awareness and end elder abuse.

Last year, a study from MetLife was released regarding the increase of exploitation of seniors.  Through analyzing news articles that referenced financial abuse of the elderly and extrapolating data from findings, results showed that a majority of the cases involved strangers and “scams,” whereas friends and family were also found guilty of exploiting their loved ones but usually through forged checks, stolen credit cards, drained bank accounts and transferred assets.


–          Women (between the ages of 80 and 89) who live alone and require some type of outward assistance are the most targeted victims of financial abuse in the United States.

–          Approximately 51% of all instances of financial abuse of the elderly are crimes committed by strangers, and 34% come from family, friends or acquaintances.

–          Men (between the ages of 30 and 59) accounted for 60% of crimes against the elderly.

What IS financial elder abuse?

(As stated on the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (NCPEA)

–          Taking money or property

–          Forging an older person’s signature

–          Getting an older person to sign a deed, will, or power of attorney through deception, coercion or undue influence

–          Using the older person’s property or possessions without permission

–          Promising lifelong care in exchange for money or property and not following through on the promise

–          Confidence crimes (“cons”)  – use of deception to gain victims’ confidence

–          Scams – fraudulent/deceptive acts

–          Fraud –  use of deception, trickery, false pretence, or dishonest acts or statements for financial gain

–          Telemarketing scams – calling potential  victims and using deception, scare tactics, or exaggerated claims to get them to send money. Perpetrators also make charges against victims’ credit cards without authorization?

Indicators of Financial Elder Abuse:

(As stated on the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (NCPEA)

–          Unpaid bills, eviction notices, or notices to discontinue utilities

–          Withdrawals from bank accounts or transfers between accounts that the older person cannot explain

–          Bank statements and canceled checks no longer come to the elder’s house

–          New “best friends”

–          Legal documents, such as powers of attorney, which the older person didn’t understand at the time her or she signed them

–          Unusual activity in the older person’s bank accounts including large, unexplained withdrawals, frequent transfers between accounts or ATM withdrawals

–          The care of the elder is not commensurate with the size of his/her estate

–          A caregiver expresses excessive interest in the amount of money being spent on the older person

–          Belongings or property are missing

–          Suspicious signatures on checks or other documents

–          Absence of documentation about financial arrangements

–          Implausible explanations given about the elder person’s finances by the elder or the caregiver

–          The elder is unaware of or does not understand financial arrangements that have been made for him or her.

Want More? Click here to listen to hear a special podcast on “Financial Scams Against the Elderly and other Financial Abuse”  from “Peace of Mind with Bernie the Attorney”  featuring guests from the PACE Women’s Justice Center, Joan Blackburn and Susan Ferlauto. To visit our iTunes library for more podcasts, click here.

For more information on elder abuse, visit the National Center on Aging ( other questions regarding elder law or seniors, please visit

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