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Protect the Older Adults You Love By Being Aware of These 5 Signs of Financial Senior Fraud

The digital age brings numerous benefits, including instant communication and easy access to information. However, it also introduces new avenues for financial fraud. This is particularly challenging for older adults in Pennsylvania, who may struggle with understanding new technologies and are often targeted by fraudsters exploiting their trust and occasional isolation. These scams can involve phishing attempts, lottery scams, and more, causing not only financial loss but also emotional distress.

This blog aims to empower readers by providing knowledge about common scams and signs of financial abuse. Knowledge is our best defense against these digital predators, helping us protect our older loved ones.

What Are the 5 Signs of Financial Abuse to Look Out for in Older Adults?

Detecting signs of financial abuse in seniors can be challenging, but vigilance and knowledge are key. Suspicious activities include abrupt changes in bank accounts, frequent or unexplained withdrawals, new authorized signers on an account, or irregular check numbers. Sudden alterations to legal documents, such as wills or trusts, could also indicate potential coercion or manipulation. Behavioral changes in seniors, such as becoming nervous when discussing finances or not remembering certain transactions, may also signal abuse.

1. Abrupt Changes in Bank Accounts or Spending Patterns

This could be a sudden large withdrawal, frequent smaller withdrawals, or an unexplained lack of funds. Look for new authorized signers on an account or irregular check numbers.

2. Changes to Legal Documents

Sudden alterations to wills, trusts, or powers of attorney could indicate potential coercion or manipulation. Be wary if these changes favor new acquaintances over close family members and friends.

3. Unpaid Bills or Lack of Medical Care

Despite having enough resources, if an older adult has unpaid bills or is not receiving necessary medical care, it could be a sign that someone is misusing their funds.

4. Secrecy or Nervousness About Money

If an older adult becomes secretive or nervous when discussing finances, it could be a sign of financial abuse. They may also seem confused about their financial situation or not remember certain transactions.

5. New Friends or Sweethearts

The sudden appearance of new friends or sweethearts, particularly if they show excessive interest in an older adult’s finances, can be a red flag. These individuals might isolate the person from loved ones or convince them to make financial decisions that are not in their best interest.

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If you observe these warning signs, it’s crucial to report them to the relevant authorities. This could be the older adult’s bank, local law enforcement, or adult protective services. Protecting our loved ones from financial exploitation is paramount. Early detection and reporting can make a huge difference in these scenarios.

What Types of Financial Fraud Target Seniors?

Understanding the types of scams aimed at older adults is the first defense against scenarios designed specifically to manipulate and exploit senior citizens. Financial fraud targeting seniors has become increasingly sophisticated, with fraudsters employing various tactics to deceive their victims. These scams often prey on the trust, generosity, or fear of seniors, using these emotions to trick them into handing over their hard-earned savings. The following are some of the most prevalent types of financial fraud that target seniors:

  • Government Impersonation Scams: Scammers pretend to be government officials to convince seniors they owe a debt that must be paid immediately to avoid severe consequences like arrest or asset seizure.
  • Sweepstakes Scams: Fraudsters inform seniors they have won a lottery or sweepstakes and need to make a payment to claim their prize.
  • Robocall Scams: Automated phone calls deliver pre-recorded messages about unpaid debts, or prizes won, often leading to fraudulent websites or payment platforms.
  • Health Care/Medicare/Health Insurance Fraud: Scammers may offer bogus services for elderly patients, counterfeit prescription drugs, or fake health insurance coverage.
  • Funeral and Cemetery Scams: Unscrupulous funeral homes capitalize on family members’ unfamiliarity with the high cost of funeral services to add unnecessary charges.
  • Reverse Mortgage Scams: Scammers, often from real estate or financial services, trick seniors into signing up for fraudulent reverse mortgages, causing them to lose their homes.
  • IRS Imposter Scams: Aggressive and sophisticated phone scams target taxpayers, particularly seniors, threatening jail time or court action for supposed unpaid taxes.
  • Romance Scams: Scammers create fake profiles on dating websites, establish relationships with seniors, then use a concocted tragedy to solicit money.
  • Grandparent Scams: Criminals call seniors posing as a distressed grandchild who needs immediate financial help.
  • Phishing Scams: Scammers send emails or create websites mimicking reputable companies to trick seniors into revealing personal information.

These are just a few examples of the many types of financial fraud that target seniors. By being aware of these scams, you can take steps to protect yourself and your loved ones from these unscrupulous activities.

How Should You Report Fraud and Seek Justice?

When financial senior fraud occurs, the first step is to report it to your local law enforcement. They can guide you through filing a report and discuss the next steps. Additionally, the incident should be reported to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which collects data about fraudulent activities to aid investigations. Contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) if the fraud involves social security benefits.

The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) should be contacted for healthcare-related fraud, such as Medicare or Medicaid. Seniors or those caring for them can also use the National Elder Fraud Hotline for support. If the fraud occurred online, submit a complaint to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). Reporting fraud promptly can help bring perpetrators to justice and make the internet safer for all.

How Can Seniors and Their Loved Ones Empower Themselves to Combat Fraud?

The most effective defense against financial fraud is proactive prevention. As society navigates the complexities of an ever-evolving technological landscape, it’s important to remain vigilant in protecting older adults from financial exploitation. This responsibility is shared – one that involves safeguarding parents, grandparents, neighbors, and friends.

If you want to help protect your loved one or an older adult in your life from fraud, you have options. Contact May Herr & Grosh today to help with estate planning and protect your loved one’s estate before they become a victim of fraud.


This blog is being published for educational purposes only as well as to provide general information and a basic understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By entering this site you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the publisher. This site should never be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

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