Preventing Elder Financial Abuse

Community | 05/31/24
BLOG Elder Abuse Q2 JUN24

Elder financial abuse occurs when someone takes or misuses an older adult’s money or property for the benefit of themselves. This can occur at the hands of friends, family members, strangers, or caregivers. This form of abuse can severely affect the finances of the victim, wiping out decades' worth of savings and hard work. Luckily, there are ways to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Tips for Elders:

  • Plan ahead to protect your assets and ensure your wishes are followed. Consider a financial caregiver.
  • Shred sensitive information such as bank statements before throwing them away.
  • Keep your checkbook and bank statements secure when others are in your home.
  • Regularly review your credit report for unauthorized inquiries or suspicious activity. If you are not planning to apply for new credit in the near future, consider placing a freeze on your credit to prevent any new credit from being established in your name.
  • Never give personal or financial information to anyone over the phone unless you initiated the call and trust the other party. If you are an Ascend member and receive a suspicious message that appears to be from Ascend, call 800-342-3086 to confirm the validity of the message before responding. Do not call the phone number listed in the message or click any links.
  • Limit the amount of personal information you share on social media including common answers to security questions, your address, and images of personal documents like your driver’s license or passport.
  • Speak with a financial advisor before signing any document you don’t understand.

As an Ascend member, you benefit from an extra layer of account protection with our Advance Consent Agreement. Any member aged 65 years or older can voluntarily opt-in, authorizing Ascend to contact a listed “trusted contact” in the event Ascend suspects fraud or abuse. Speak with an Ascend representative to learn more.

Tips for Friends and Family

Financial abuse can be harder to spot than other types of elder abuse, as it may not physically affect the victim. However, there are some signs that could indicate elder financial abuse may be taking place:

  • Forged signatures on legal documents or checks.
  • Unusual or unauthorized bank withdrawals
  • Missing personal belongings
  • Sudden changes to an elder’s will
  • The individual is signing documents they don’t understand
  • Unpaid bills or mounting debt

If you suspect your loved one may be victim of elder financial abuse, it’s crucial that you report it immediately. The sooner a case has been reported, the quicker it can be addressed. You can report the abuse to the elder’s financial institution, law enforcement, trusted family members, or if they are in a long-term care facility, the director. At Ascend, the security of our members' finances is our top priority. If you have any concerns or questions regarding the security of your accounts or suspect any fraudulent activity, please contact our member service team at 800-342-3086.

For additional tips on security and fraud prevention, check out our article on 3 Tips for a Scam Free Summer.

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