Safeguard Your Financial Future: Understand Financial Abuse and Recognize the Warning Signs

Elder abuse is a widespread problem affecting hundreds of thousands of older Americans across the country. However, authorities believe elder abuse goes largely under-reported.

The alarming statistics

Every 1 in 25 financial exploitation cases are reported. This suggests there may be at least 5 million financial abuse victims every year.

Between 1 to 2 million Americans age 65 or older have been injured, exploited or otherwise mistreated by someone whom they depend on for care.

Studies indicate that elder abuse victims have a mortality rate 3 times higher than non-victims.

Your first point of defense is knowledge. Arm yourself with the basics:

What is financial abuse? Financial abuse is using an elder’s money or assets contrary to that person’s wishes, needs, or best interests. Examples include:
  • Taking money from the victim’s home or bank account
  • Selling or transferring property against the person’s will or best interests
  • Using the person’s credit card for unauthorized purchases
  • Using the person’s name or good credit to open new credit accounts
  • Misusing the Power of Attorney (POA)
  • Refusing to return borrowed money
  • Creating or changing the person’s will, trusts or inheritance for the abuser’s personal gain
What is “undue influence” and how is it accomplished by the abuser? Undue influence is when a person in a position of trust takes advantage of a vulnerable elder to gain control of their money, property, etc. This can be accomplished in several ways: directly, through a POA, a trust, marriage, adoption or inheritance. The tactics used by the abuser varies. Some may include:
  • Isolating the elder from others
  • Controlling mail, phone calls, visits and outings
  • Misleading the person to believe they will lose their house if…
  • Manipulating or withholding food and medication so that the elder becomes weak and compliant
  • Threatening the elder with harm, neglect, or abandonment if they don’t do what they are told
How do you blow the whistle on financial abuse? Call Missouri’s Elder Abuse Hotline, 1-800-392.0210. Be prepared to give the following information: Name of the victim, address, age, phone number and details of the abuse.

Calls are confidential and are directed to a trained elder abuse caseworker. The most serious, dangerous cases will be responded to within 24 hours.

You can also call your local police department.

Feel free to also contact Care Connection for more information.

Downloads and Resources
Elder Financial Abuse FAQs (pdf)
National Center on Elder Abuse
Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services