What Are the Warning Signs of Financial Elder Abuse?

Elder financial abuse occurs when someone misuses the assets of a vulnerable elder or steals the elder’s assets. Many older people are vulnerable to abuse so it is important to monitor for the following warning signs of financial elder abuse.

Most Cases Are Not Reported

According to the National Adult Protective Services Association, only 1 in 44 cases of elder financial abuse are ever reported. The reasons for this underreporting are varied, ranging from the elder not understanding what has happened to not wanting to report the perpetrator because it is someone the elder knows and does not want to be in trouble.

Suspicious Behavior

One way to spot elder financial abuse is to look for suspicious behavior by individuals around the elder. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, 90 percent of perpetrators of elder abuse are family members or others that the elder knows well like neighbors or caregivers. These people may influence the elder to change their will or to name them as power of attorney. They may convince the elder to transfer funds from his or her account to their own. A cue can be if the caregiver suddenly has a change in lifestyle like quitting a job or having a new expensive asset because they are stealing from the elder.

Transactional Signs

Loved ones who are listed on the bank account or can see the elder’s finances may be able to spot elder financial abuse with these warning signs:

  • Large cash withdrawals
  • Forged signatures on checks
  • Many small withdrawals
  • A change in banking behavior such as switching to cash withdrawals when all previous transactions were through checks or debit card
  • Unpaid bills despite sufficient income
  • A change in banks
  • Adding a new person to a bank account
  • Financial transactions that the elder does not understand or remember
  • Missing property

Risk Factors

While all elders may be susceptible to abuse by those they know, some additional risk factors include:

  • Cognitive decline – If an elder is losing his or her memory or has been diagnosed with dementia, perpetrators may take advantage of this because the elder won’t be believed.
  • Lack of knowledge about finances – If the elder does not have an understanding of his or her financial situation or the spouse who handled the finances recently passed away, others may prey on the situation.
  • Isolation – Abusers try to isolate their victims from others so they won’t be able to report the abuse.
  • Physical frailty – An elder who is physically reliant on someone else is also more susceptible to abuse.

Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer

If you suspect that your loved one is being abused, it is important to reach out for help. The experienced elder abuse attorneys at Udall Shumway are committed to protecting vulnerable elders and can discuss pursuing a legal claim with you.


This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you or someone you know wishes to seek the help of an experienced personal injury attorney regarding Signs of Financial Elder Abuse, or other personal injury matters, call Mesa AZ Personal Injury Attorney Clark R. Richter at 480-461-5321 or contact him at crr@udallshumway.com for a free consultation to discuss your rights and options. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.