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Southeastern Credit Union is here to help our members and the community in the awareness, detection, and prevention of elder financial exploitation. Older adults are targets of this activity due to their trusting nature, higher wealth in retirement accounts, home ownership and other assets.

In cooperation with the state of Georgia’s Division of Aging Services     we would like to assist our members and bring awareness of this growing epidemic.

According to Georgia’s Office of the Attorney General, “Georgia has special laws to protect residents 65 years of age and older, disabled adults who are 18 years of age and older who are mentally or physically incapacitated or have Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, and residents of long-term care facilities. Due to age and/or disability, this population may be at increased risk for abuse, neglect, and exploitation.”

What Defines Elder Financial Exploitation?

The National Committee for Prevention of Elder Abuse defines elder abuse as “any form of mistreatment that results in harm or loss to an older person”.

Financial Exploitation is the illegal or improper use of an older person or vulnerable adult’s funds, property, or resources.

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Signs of Financial Exploitation

  • Lack of affordable amenities, such as food, electricity, medication
  • Identity theft
  • Scams
  • Misuse of funds by an agent appointed under a power of attorney
  • Paying extremely high costs for caregiving or companionship
  • Caregiver is in control of the elder/vulnerable adult’s funds but does not provide for the elder/vulnerable adult’s needs
  • Elder/vulnerable adult has signed over property (home, car, investments), made changes in their will, trust or power of attorney but is confused at to why or what they are signing
  • Bills are not paid on time even though there are enough funds to pay them
  • Bank account shows unusual activity or could be overdrawn
  • Elder is isolated from family and/or friends, lack of socialization
  • Elder/vulnerable adult is afraid to speak in front of caregiver/companion/family member.

Top 10 Scams for Elders and Vulnerable Adults

The below scams are currently the most popular and reported scams according to the National Council on Aging listed on their website.

  1. Medicare/Health Insurance Scam
    • In these types of scams, perpetrators may pose as a Medicare representative to get older people to give them their personal information, or they will provide bogus services for elderly people at makeshift mobile clinics, then use the personal information they provide to bill Medicare and pocket the money.
  2. Counterfeit Prescription Drugs
    • Most commonly, counterfeit drug scams operate on the internet, where seniors increasingly go to find better prices on medications. This scam is growing in popularity. The danger is that besides paying money for something that will not help a person’s medical condition, victims may purchase unsafe substances that can inflict more harm.
  3. Funeral & Cemetery Scams
    • The FBI warns about two types of funeral and cemetery fraud perpetrated on seniors.
      • In one approach, scammers read obituaries and call or attend the funeral service of a stranger to take advantage of the grieving widow or widower. Claiming the deceased had an outstanding debt with them, scammers will try to extort money from relatives to settle the fake debts.
      • Another tactic of disreputable funeral homes is to capitalize on family members’ unfamiliarity with the considerable cost of funeral services to add unnecessary charges to the bill. In one common scam of this type, funeral directors will insist that a casket, usually one of the most expensive parts of funeral services, is necessary even when performing a direct cremation, which can be accomplished with a cardboard casket rather than an expensive display or burial casket.
  4. Fraudulent Anti-Aging Products
    • It is in this spirit that many older Americans seek out new treatments and medications to maintain a youthful appearance, putting them at risk of scammers. Whether it’s fake Botox like the one in Arizona that netted its distributors (who were convicted and jailed in 2006) $1.5 million in barely a year, or completely bogus homeopathic remedies that do absolutely nothing, there is money in the anti-aging business.
  5. Telemarketing/Phone Scams
    • Perhaps the most common scheme is when scammers use fake telemarketing calls to prey on older people, who as a group make twice as many purchases over the phone than the national average. While the image of the lonely senior citizen with nobody to talk to may have something to do with this, it is far more likely that older people are more familiar with shopping over the phone, and therefore might not be fully aware of the risk.
    • Examples of telemarketing fraud include:
      1. The Pigeon Drop
        • The con artist tells the individual that he/she has found a large sum of money and is willing to split it if the person will make a “good faith” payment by withdrawing funds from his/her bank account. Often, a second con artist is involved, posing as a lawyer, banker, or some other trustworthy stranger.
      2. The Fake Accident Ploy
        • The con artist gets the victim to wire or send money on the pretext that the person’s child or another   relative is in the hospital and needs the money.
      3. Charity Scams
        • Money is solicited for fake charities. This often occurs after natural disasters.
  6. Internet Fraud
    • While using the Internet is a great skill at any age, the slower speed of adoption among some older people makes them easier targets for automated Internet scams that are ubiquitous on the web and email programs. Pop-up browser windows simulating virus-scanning software will fool victims into either downloading a fake anti-virus program (at a substantial cost) or an actual virus that will open whatever information is on the user’s computer to scammers.
    • Email/Phishing Scam
      • A senior receives email messages that appear to be from a legitimate company or institution, asking      them to “update” or “verify” their personal information. A senior receives emails that appear to be from the IRS about a tax refund.
  7. Investment Schemes
    • Because many seniors find themselves planning for retirement and managing their savings once they finish working, a number of investment schemes have been targeted at seniors looking to safeguard their cash for their later years. From pyramid schemes like Bernie Madoff’s (which counted a number of senior citizens among its victims) to fables of a Nigerian prince looking for a partner to claim inheritance money to complex financial products that many economists don’t even understand, investment schemes have long been a successful way to take advantage of older people.
  8. Homeowner/Reverse Mortgage Scams
    • Scammers can take advantage of older adults who have recently unlocked equity in their homes.  Those considering reverse mortgages should be cognizant of people in their lives pressuring them to obtain a reverse mortgage, or those that stand to benefit from the borrower accessing equity, such as home repair companies who approach the older adult directly.
  9. Sweepstakes & Lottery Scams
    • This simple scam is one that many are familiar with, and it capitalizes on the notion that “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.” Here, scammers inform their mark that they have won a lottery or sweepstakes of some kind and need to make some sort of payment to unlock the supposed prize. Often, seniors will be sent a check that they can deposit in their bank account, knowing that while it shows up in their account immediately, it will take a few days before the (fake) check is rejected. During that time, the criminals will quickly collect money for supposed fees or taxes on the prize, which they pocket while the victim has the “prize money” removed from his or her account as soon as the check bounces.
  10. The Grandparent Scam
    • Scammers will place a call to an older person and when the mark picks up, they will say something along the lines of: “Hi Grandma, do you know who this is?” When the unsuspecting grandparent guesses the name of the grandchild the scammer most sounds like, the scammer has established a fake identity without having done a lick of background research. Once “in,” the fake grandchild will usually ask for money to solve some unexpected financial problem (overdue rent, payment for car repairs, etc.), to be paid via Western Union or MoneyGram, which don’t always require identification to collect. At the same time, the scam artist will beg the grandparent “please don’t tell my parents, they would kill me.”

Where to Get More Information

For more information, please visit the following websites or call/contact them by phone.

Adult Protective Services of Georgia
Phone: (866)552-4464 or (404)657-5258

Adult Protective Services of Florida
Phone: (800)962-2873

National Center on Elder Abuse
Phone: (855)500-3537

National Council on Aging (for information and recent scams)

National Adult Protective Services Association (for information and recent scams)

Federal Trade Commission (for information on scams, identity theft and Do Not Call registry)
Website (Do Not Call):


Southeastern Credit Union is Here to Help

As your financial institution and a supporter of combatting elder abuse, your safety and well being is of great importance to us. We will do our best to protect you and your assets.

You have the right to make your own financial decisions. Don’t let anyone threaten or intimidate you.