Financial elder abuse

The National Council on Aging estimates the loss to victims of financial elder abuse is at least $36 billion each year.

Financial elder abuse — the stealing of money or belongings — can include forging checks, taking retirement or Social Security benefits, or using a person’s accounts without their permission. This abuse can also be done by identity thieves via phone, mail or internet.

The signs to look for in financial elder abuse include:

Unpaid bills or collection letters

Sudden or unusual changes in spending patterns, wills or other financial documents

Lack of food in the home

ATM withdrawals or online financial activity by an older person who has never used much financial technology

Sudden appearance of uninvolved relatives claiming rights to an older adult’s property or possessions

If you have older adults in your life and have concerns, please reach out to them or to your local Adult Protective Services. In California, every county has an APS agency. Learn more here. In Orange County, call the 24-hour hotline at (800) 451-5155 and learn more here.

Your concern can keep an elder adult safe from financial predators and help alert unaware family members and friends.