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Elder Financial Abuse: Warning Signs and How to Find Help

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When it comes to financial scams and abuse, senior citizens are particularly vulnerable. When aging individuals live alone or are experiencing mental decline, financial abusers often see them as easy prey. According to the AARP, financial abuse can take many forms, including investment scams, fraudulent lottery schemes, identity theft, credit or debit card misuse and forged checks.

Here are some warning signs that could indicate a senior is being financially exploited:

  • Difficulty recalling financial transactions. We all get forgetful from time-to-time. But, if a senior begins talking about not recalling withdrawals or opening new accounts, that could be a red flag the person may need help safeguarding their assets.

  • Bank statements or other financial documents stop arriving in the mail. When someone close to a senior takes advantage of their finances, they may convince that individual to change the mailing address on bank statements, cancelled checks and other paperwork. This could indicate suspicious activity.

  • A caregiver begins showing unusual interest in how much money is being spent on a senior. If a family member or caregiver begins asking questions about the senior’s estate or finances, or begins cutting back on how much is spent on their care, financial abuse may be occurring.

  • Bills are unpaid or warnings arrive for utility shutoffs. These could be a sign that a senior’s money isn’t being used properly.

  • Unrecognized signatures begin appearing on documents. If signatures on checks or other financial documents begin to look different, compare the handwriting against a sample from the senior. 

What should you do if you suspect elder financial abuse?

  • Any suspected theft should be reported to law enforcement officials.

  • If there are questions or concerns about activity on a Capitol Federal® customer’s account, please immediately call us at (888) 822-7333.

  • Contact the National Center on Elder Abuse at for assistance from local and state social service agencies.

  • If identity theft is suspected, immediately report the incident by calling the Federal Trade Commission Identity Theft Hotline at (877) 438-4338 or visit

  • Family members may wish to begin meeting on a regular basis to review the senior’s finances. Capitol Federal customers can sign up for free Visa® Purchase Alerts to closely monitor debit card transactions.

  • A financial power of attorney can be set up which allows a trusted family member or friend to handle the senior’s financial matters.

Finally, it’s important to remember not all elderly financial abuse is committed by strangers. According to the National Council on Aging, abusers are both women and men and in almost 60% of elder abuse and neglect incidents, the perpetrator is a family member. Elderly individuals may be reluctant to report financial abuse because they don’t want a family member to get in trouble. If you suspect a senior is being taken advantage of, it’s important to speak up on their behalf.  

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Categories: Retirement , Safety and Security , CapFed® News
Tags: About CapFed , Kansas City , Lawrence , Topeka , Wichita

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