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The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) recently issued an advisory alerting financial institutions to the rising trend of elder financial exploitation. Many of the statistics reported in the advisory were disturbing.

According to the latest statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice, millions of older adults lose more than $3 billion to financial fraud each year, with the COVID-19 pandemic making the elderly even more vulnerable to scams and theft. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) received over 62,000 reports of suspicious activity in 2020, for an estimated total of $3.4 billion in suspicious transactions.

Here is an overview of elder financial exploitation and some tips to prevent it.

What Is Elder Financial Exploitation?

FinCEN defines elder financial exploitation “as the illegal or improper use of an older adult’s funds, property, or assets.” Most incidents go unreported. Victims are often scared or embarrassed or simply don’t know where to turn for help.

What Are the Primary Types of Elderly Exploitation?

Elder financial exploitation schemes generally involve either theft or scams. Here are some things to know about spotting these two primary types of elderly exploitation.

Elderly Theft

Sadly, older persons often know and trust elderly theft perpetrators. A trusted person could be a friend, neighbor, financial services provider, or family member.
There are many forms of elder theft, including the following:

  • The exploitation of legal guardianship and power of attorney arrangements
  • The use of fraudulent investments
  • The transferring property and other assets, maxing out credit cards in the name of the victims
  • Theft of Social Security and other checks
  • The liquidation savings and retirement accounts

Elderly Scams

Elderly scams are committed by unknown perpetrators rather than someone the victim knows. Fraudsters disproportionately affect older adults and typically involve an elderly victim providing the scammer with information or sending payments under false pretenses or for a promised product the victim will never receive. Elderly scammers normally contact victims by phone, text, email, social media, and apps.

Beware of the following types of scams. You can learn more about how they work by researching them online.

  • Government imposter scams
  • Romance scams
  • Emergency/person-in-need scams (also called grandparent scams)
  • Lottery and sweepstakes scams
  • Tech and customer support scams

How Can You Protect Against Elderly Theft and Scams?

  • Stay up to date on common scams and how to spot them.
  • Learn to spot fake emails and texts; if you have any doubts, don’t click any links.
  • Never provide financial information or personal data by phone, text, or email—a bank will never text or email you asking for sensitive information.
  • Contact Western Bank immediately if you think you’re the victim of theft or a scam.

We’re Here To Help

If you have questions about what to watch for in fake bank emails or calls, please ask. Your financial safety and security are important to us. Remember to never share your banking information via text or phone with someone claiming to be from Western Bank. Contact us immediately at (877) 301-2262 if you think your accounts have been compromised in any way.

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