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Elder Financial Abuse

You, or someone you know, could become the victim of financial abuse of elders. Seniors are increasingly becoming targets for financial abuse – especially those with disabilities or who rely on others for help. Taking simple steps to safeguard personal information and being aware of warning signs can protect elders from this financial abuse.

Tips for Seniors

  • Plan ahead to protect your assets and to ensure your wishes are followed. You can talk to a Community First representative, an attorney, or a financial advisor about the best options for you.
  • Shred receipts, bank statements, and unused credit card offers before throwing them away.
  • Be careful and wise about whom you choose to act as your agent in all estate-planning matters.
  • Lock up your checkbook, statements, and other sensitive information when others will be in your home.
  • Never give out any personal information to anyone over the phone unless you initiated the call and the other party is trusted.
  • Never rush into a financial decision.
  • Consult with a financial advisor or attorney before signing any document you don’t understand.
  • Get to know your credit union or banker and build a relationship with the people who handle your finances. They can look out for any suspicious activity on your account.
  • Don’t allow any workers to have access to information about your finances.
  • Pay with checks and credit cards instead of cash to keep a paper trail.
  • Don’t be afraid to say “no.” It is your money, after all.

What should you do if you are a victim of financial abuse?

  • Talk to a trusted family member who has your best interests at heart, or to your clergy.
  • Talk to your attorney, doctor, or one of our Community First representatives.
  • Contact Adult Protective Services in Florida or your local police for help.

Tips for Family and Friends

  • Sudden non-sufficient fund activity or unpaid bills
  • Unusual activity in an older person’s accounts, including large, frequent or unexplained withdrawals.
  • ATM withdrawals by an older person who has never used a debit or ATM card.
  • Changing from a basic account to one that offers more complicated services they do not fully understand or need.
  • Withdrawals from accounts or transfers between accounts they cannot explain.
  • New “best friends” accompanying an older person to the bank.
  • Closing CDs or accounts without regard to penalties.
  • Uncharacteristic attempts to wire large sums of money.
  • Suspicious signatures on checks, or actual forgery.
  • Confusion, fear or lack of awareness on their part.
  • Refusal to make eye contact, shame, or reluctance to talk about the problem.
  • Checks written as “loans” or “gifts.”
  • Statements that no longer go to the member's home.
  • New powers of attorney the older person does not understand.
  • A caretaker, relative or friend who suddenly begins conducting financial transactions on behalf of an older person without proper documentation.
  • Altered wills and trusts.
  • Loss of property

Helpful Resources

  • Elder Abuse Hotline: 1-800-96-Abuse (24 Hours)
  • Elder Helpline: 1-800-96-Elder
  • Long-Term Care Ombudsman: 1-800-831-0404 (for those in nursing homes and assisted living facilities)