Signals of elder financial abuse

March 22, 2009

The National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse offers the following information about financial elder abuse:


The NCPEA Web site notes that indicators are signs or clues that financial abuse has occurred. Some of the indicators listed below can be explained by other causes or factors and no single indicator can be taken as conclusive proof, the Web site cautions. Rather, one should look for patterns or clusters of indicators that suggest a problem, the site says:

o Unpaid bills, eviction notices or notices to discontinue utilities

o Withdrawals from bank accounts or transfers between accounts that the older person cannot explain

o Bank statements and canceled checks no longer come to the elder's home

o New "best friends"

o Legal documents, such as powers of attorney, which the older person didn't understand at the time he or she signed them

o Unusual activity in the older person's bank accounts, including large, unexplained withdrawals, frequent transfers between accounts or ATM withdrawals


o The care of the elder is not commensurate with the size of his/her estate

o A caregiver expresses excessive interest in the amount of money being spent on the older person

o Belongings or property are missing

o Suspicious signatures on checks or other documents

o Absence of documentation about financial arrangements

o Implausible explanations given about the elderly person's finances by the elder or the caregiver

o The elder is unaware of or does not understand financial arrangements that have been made for him or her

The National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (NCPEA) describes itself as an association of researchers, practitioners, educators and advocates dedicated to protecting the safety, security and dignity of America's most vulnerable citizens. It was established in 1988 in an effort to achieve a clearer understanding of abuse, and to provide direction and leadership to prevent it.

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