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Financial Exploitation

What is Financial Exploitation?

Financial exploitation is the misuse or theft of assets, and it can happen to anyone. It can come in the form of unauthorized bank withdrawals, check fraud, misuse of credit cards, scams and theft of property. It is currently the fastest-growing form of elder abuse. 

Why Focus on Financial Exploitation and the Aging Population?         

By the year 2030, 27.5% of all Pennsylvanians will be over age 60. It's critical to raise awareness, educate, and empower older adults to know the signs of financial exploitation, how to prevent it and what to do if theft is suspected.

Older adults are at an increased risk for financial exploitation due to steady incomes, accumulated wealth, and retirement savings associated with adults of their age. Other factors include mental and physical changes that occur during the natural aging process and an increased dependency on others for help with day to day living. Individuals experiencing symptoms of cognitive decline, or are living with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia are also at an increased risk of financial exploitation.

Types of Financial Exploitation

There are dozens of types of financial exploitation. Here are some common examples: 

      • Property theft
      • Misuse of income or assets
      • Forged and stolen checks
      • Investment fraud
      • Contractor scams
      • Grandparent/grandchild imposter emergency scams
      • Medical scams
      • Fraudulent IRS calls
      • Fraudulent Medicare calls
      • Computer and other tech support scams
      • Phony solicitation from charities
      • Lotteries and phony contests
      • Fraudulent use of Power of Attorney privileges

What Can Older Adults Do?

Every older adult, in fact anyone who interacts with older adults has a role to play in preventing, detecting and reporting financial exploitation ­– from caregivers and healthcare workers to merchants, financial institutions and law enforcement.

Older adults can take steps to prevent, detect, and report financial exploitation.

      • Help with finances should come only from a trusted source.
      • Never provide personal information, including your Social Security number, account numbers or other financial information to anyone over the phone unless you initiated the call.
      • Secure your checkbook and other sensitive documents in a locked location.
      • Do not sign any document you do not understand.
      • Order a copy of your credit report. You are entitled to a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus once every twelve months. To order your free annual reports, go to AnnualCreditReport.com or call toll- free 1-877-322-8228. Be sure accounts have not been opened in your name, without your knowledge.

Real-life Stories

Financial exploitation is rarely reported or even talked about. That needs to change. Hearing the stories of those who've experienced a type of exploitation will help to break the stigma, provide the knowledge to educate others and spread the word about financial exploitation. 

      • Podcasts and real-life stories coming soon
Have you had a personal experience with financial exploitation? Would you like to help educate others through your story? Contact us at agingcomms@pa.gov.

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