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Neighbors, caregivers, professionals, and even friends and family may be involved in elderly financial abuse. They may take money without permission, fail to repay money they owe, charge too much for services, or fail to do what they were paid to do.

Financial abuse is a form of elder abuse, happening anywhere and at any time. As a family or friend, you are tasked with protecting your loved ones from financial abuse. If you suspect financial abuse, you should report your suspicions to the appropriate authorities, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Where should I report financial abuse?

  • If you suspect elder financial abuse, report it to Adult Protective Services (APS). APS are social services programs in each state. They serve older adults and adults with disabilities who need help due to abuse, neglect, or exploitation. Adult Protective Services is a common term, but this may not be the name of the agency in your state.
  • If there is an urgent risk of harm to your loved one or someone else, you should call 911 right away. Otherwise, you can call the non-emergency number for your local police or Sheriff’s office to file a report. Some state laws define elder financial abuse as a specific type of crime. Financial abuse may also involve other crimes such as theft, fraud, forgery, embezzlement, or money laundering.
  • You can also report financial abuse to your local District Attorney’s office and ask them to prosecute the person who took advantage of your loved one.

What information do I need to file a report?

Include as much information as possible in your report. Plan to share what you have observed. Even if you don’t have all of the details, you should still file a report. The authorities who will investigate the situation do not expect you to know everything.

  • Time, date, and location of the incident(s).
  • Names of anyone who was involved and anyone who observed the incident(s).
  • Description of the suspected financial abuse and any other types of abuse or neglect.
  • Your loved one’s disabilities or health conditions, including any information about decision-making abilities or memory loss.
  • Whether you believe there is an urgent risk of danger to your loved one or someone else.

What other types of help are available?

  • Long-term care ombudsmen help people living in nursing homes, assisted living communities, and similar adult care communities. Ombudsmen can advocate for your loved one and help solve the problem. Every state has an Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman.
  • If your loved one has a social worker, elder patient advocate, or someone in a similar role, consider asking that person for help.
  • If there is a resident and family council in your loved one’s community, you could tell the council about the situation and ask for help. Resident and family councils are groups of family members who work together to help people living in nursing homes and assisted living communities and their families.
  • If the financial abuse involved a financial account, work with your loved one to contact their bank, credit union, credit card company, or other financial services provider as soon as possible. Depending on the situation, the financial institution may be able to get your loved one’s money back. You can also check whether your loved one has any insurance that might cover the loss.
  • The U.S. Department of Justice's National Elder Fraud Hotline can provide resources and referrals in your area: 833-372-8311

Problems with an assisted living community or nursing home employee

If you suspect that a care team member or volunteer of your loved one’s assisted living community or nursing home may be financially abusing them, report your concerns to the administrator or the team member responsible for receiving reports of abuse. If the problem is not resolved, you should be able to file a grievance, complaint, or both.

If your loved one lives in a nursing home, you can report to:

  • State survey agency that oversees Medicare-certified or Medicaid-certified nursing homes.
  • State licensing board for the perpetrator if the perpetrator is a licensed professional.

If your loved one lives in an assisted living community, you can report to:

  • Assisted living licensing boards.
  • State licensing board for the perpetrator if the perpetrator is a licensed professional.

Problems with financial caregivers

  • If you suspect that a Social Security representative payee is misusing your loved one’s Social Security benefits, contact the local Social Security office at or call the Social Security Administration at 800-772-1213.
  • If you suspect that a fiduciary appointed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is misusing your loved one’s benefits, contact the VA.
  • If you suspect that a guardian or conservator is misusing your loved one’s money or property, contact the court that appointed the guardian or conservator. Most courts have procedures for receiving and investigating complaints.

Where to report scams

The information in this article was obtained from various sources not associated with Adirondack Bank. While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. Adirondack Bank is not responsible for, and does not endorse or approve, either implicitly or explicitly, the information provided or the content of any third-party sites that might be hyperlinked from this page. The information is not intended to replace manuals, instructions or information provided by a manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional, or to affect coverage under any applicable insurance policy. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. Adirondack Bank makes no guarantees of results from use of this information.