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Red Flags for Elder Financial Abuse

September 25, 2018

A recent survey by the American Journal of Public Health revealed that nearly one in 18 older adults falls prey to financial fraud or abuse, to the tune of $36.5 billion per year. And while declining cognition is associated with a 33% increase in scam susceptibility, even healthy older adults can fall victim, according to Patricia Boyle, a professor of behavioral sciences at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

One key to spotting financial abuse is a change in someone’s established financial patterns. These can include:

  • Unusual account activity, especially large, frequent, or unexplained withdrawals or transfers. Also checks written as “loans” or “gifts.”
  • Change in banks or attorneys.
  • A new “best friend” who takes an unusual interest in an elder’s financial business.
  • Suddenly having unpaid bills or non-sufficient fund activity (“bounced checks”).
  • Abruptly closing CDs or other accounts without regard for penalties.
  • New powers of attorney the older person does not understand, and altered wills or trusts.

If you suspect elder financial abuse, you can contact your local police department, or the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council (800-992-6978).