Your Money: Elder Financial Exploitation

The Morning Show

Kathy Sweedler stopped by for today’s Your Money. Find out how you can keep you and your loved ones from being scammed as you get older.

What is Elder Financial Exploitation?

Elder financial exploitation involves people stealing money from older adults and it’s a widespread problem. It’s estimated that 3.5 million older adults were victims of elder financial exploitation in 2017. The average amount lost (by those reported as a SAR) was $34,200. This is a lot of money to lose!

Who steals from older adults?

We often talk about being careful with our money around strangers and watching out for stranger con artists. However, it’s not uncommon for the person to be someone the older adult knows. In the Office of Financial Protection for Older Americans’ report, approximately:

· 50% of the people who stole money (or attempted to steal) were strangers, and

· 25% were family.

In addition, monetary losses were greater when the older adult knew the suspect.

Elder financial exploitation can look very different in different situations. It can be as simple as a family member stealing money from an older relative’s checking account. Or, as complicated as a con that involves transferring money from one country to another.

How can we help protect older adults we know?

Pay attention if an older relative or friend starts acting differently with their money. For example, are they:

· fearful or unusually anxious about their finances;

· wiring money to a new friend or contact;

· having trouble paying their bills or are making extra withdrawals of money;

· making abrupt, unexpected changes in their will, insurance or other financial documents; or

· confused about recent financial matters?

These are warning signs that something may not being going well. While there are several possible causes, it may be that they are a victim of financial exploitation.

Contact your local adult protective services (APS) agency for help. You can find out how to reach your APS office from the Eldercare Locator at or by calling 1-800-677-1116. In addition, you can call the statewide, 24-hour Adult Protective Services Hotline: 1-866-800-1409, 1-888-206-1327 (TTY). The people at these agencies can provide a home visit to check on the person’s safety. If you have been a victim of financial exploitation, you can call these agencies too.

Where to go for more information?

If you’d like to learn more about financial exploitation, I will be presenting in both Champaign and Danville on this topic during Money Smart Week 2019. Please join me either on April 3, 12:30 p.m. at the University of Illinois Extension’s office, Danville OR on April 4, 11:00 a.m. with Mind in Motion at the First United Methodist Church, Champaign. You can RSVP for these events and find more Money Smart Week events at

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