Crimes Against Older Adults Link to Home Page

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Why Older Adults Are So Vulnerable to
Financial Abuse?

There are many reasons that older adults fall prey to financial abuse. It is important to be aware of these to help avoid such exploitation.

  • Many seniors do not realize the value of their assets (particularly homes that have appreciated markedly)
  • Older adults are likely to have disabilities that make them dependent on others for help. These "helpers" may have access to homes and assets, and may exercise significant influence over the older person
  • Older adults often develop predictable financial patterns (e.g. because older people are likely to receive monthly checks, abusers can predict when an older people will have money on hand or need to go to the bank)
  • Severely impaired individuals are also less likely to take action against their abusers as a result of illness or embarrassment
  • Abusers may assume that frail victims will not survive long enough to follow through on legal interventions, or that they will not make convincing witnesses
  • Some older people are unsophisticated about financial matters or new technology that manages their financial matters.

Elder financial abuse or exploitation spans a broad spectrum of conduct, including:

  • Cashing an elder's checks without authorization
  • Using the elder's charge card number for one's own benefit
  • Handling an elder's money without durable power of attorney (which authorizes the person to manage the elder's finances)
  • Withdrawing cash from an elder's bank account with an ATM card, without the elder's permission
  • Scamming an elder by convincing him or her to withdraw money from the bank, and then taking the money
  • Stealing elders' checks, such as Social Security checks or pension checks, from the U.S. mail
  • Identity theft, including collecting checks and cashing them after the person has died
  • Convincing or forcing an elder to sign a contract that results in unwanted financial or material commitments
  • Convincing or forcing an elder to alter a will to benefit someone that a clear-thinking elder would not have chosen
  • Giving the elder incorrect change for a purchase in a store
  • Stealing household goods or money while caring for an elder
  • Telemarketing fraud
  • Selling sweepstakes entries where the elder is extremely unlikely to win anything

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How To Recognize Financial
Elder Abuse

Financial abuse or exploitation of an older adult is when someone illegally or improperly uses an elder's assets, funds, or property. According to, this form of abuse can be devastating because an elder victim’s life savings can disappear in the blink of an eye, leaving them unable to provide for their needs and afraid of what an uncertain tomorrow will bring.

The financial abuser can be a family member; a caregiver or caretaker; a professional, such as an accountant, lawyer, doctor, or banker; a new boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse; or partner; or a stranger.

Help Veterans Protect Themselves From Scams and Financial Abuse

Share information and resources with vets and their families to protect their finances
(click to see how)

More Information

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
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