The United States Department of Justice defines "elder financial abuse" as:
"The fraudulent or otherwise illegal, unauthorized, or improper act or process of an individual, including a caregiver or fiduciary, that uses the resources of an older individual for monetary or personal benefit, profit, or gain, or that results in depriving an older individual of rightful access to, or use of, benefits, resources, belongings, or assets."
Simply put: Elder financial abuse is when someone takes advantage of an elder for their own financial gain.
There are quite a few different ways that elder financial abuse could happen. The most common tactics that fraudsters use are scams. There are several different types of scams to be on the lookout for:
- Grandparent scam—Fraudsters typically will call an elder pretending to be their grandchild. The "grandchild" will explain that they are in trouble, usually saying that they are in jail, and need you to send or wire money immediately.
- Sweepstakes/lottery—The sweepstakes/lottery scam can come in the form of a telephone call, email or even a written letter... The fraudster will typically tell the victim that they have won a sweepstakes or the lottery but in order to claim their prize they must first pay taxes on it or some other type of fee.
- Phishing—Phishing scams typically come in the form of an email. The victim may receive an email stating that they have a refund coming from the IRS, however in order to proceed with the refund, they first need to provide their banking details.
One major red flag of elder financial abuse is the change in power-of-attorney designation... People close to the elder may manipulate him or her to give them power of attorney, which will give them control over the elder's finances.
The most effective way to prevent elder financial abuse is to always be on the lookout. Be sure to speak with your loved ones about the various types of scams out there to help them from falling victim to financial elder abuse.