June 15, 2023
Salem – Scams targeting the elder population are on the rise and today – World Elder Abuse Awareness Day – highlights this problem. Financial abuse can happen to anyone at any time, but seniors are often the target.
According to estimates from the University of Southern California's Center for Elder Justice, every year 5 million older Americans – or 1 in 10 – experience elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation. Of those, 1 in 24 cases of abuse are reported and total losses are between $2.6 billion to $36.5 billion.
The Oregon Division of Financial Regulation asks everyone to be on the lookout for the financial exploitation of seniors.
The purpose of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is to provide an opportunity for communities around the world to promote a better understanding of abuse and neglect of older people by raising awareness of the cultural, social, economic, and demographic processes affecting elder abuse and neglect.
Scammers use several tactics to gain trust from seniors in order to steal their finances. Unfortunately, some of these offenders are the guardians who are responsible for acting in the person's best interest. Guardians are often a person the senior trusts and is granted control of the person's assets. Financial abuse or exploitation often occurs when the guardian improperly uses the financial resources of a senior.
“People need to be informed and on high alert for financial fraud, and I encourage friends and loved ones to help their older family members spot scams," said TK Keen, administrator for the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation. “Technology allows bad actors to be a constant threat, which is all the more reason to be on alert for potential financial fraud impacting our loved ones."
Senior financial exploitation can be difficult to identify. Here are six examples to watch for:
- A new and overly protective friend or caregiver, especially if the senior is considering surrendering financial control to the person.
- Fear of someone or a sudden change in feelings about them.
- A lack of knowledge about financial status or reluctance to discuss financial matters.
- Sudden or unexplained changes in spending habits, a will, trust, or beneficiary designation.
- Unexplained checks made out to cash, unexplained loans, or unexplained disappearance of assets (cash, valuables, securities, etc.).
- Suspicious signatures on the senior's checks or other documents.
Oregon has a toll-free abuse hotline to call if you believe someone is being financially abused at 855-503-SAFE (7233). You can also visit the division's protect yourself from fraud website for resources to prevent, report, and recover from financial abuse.
The division is working with the North American Securities Administrators Association to share resources that will help people identify and report financial abuse. Visit serveourseniors.org for red flags to identify possible elder abuse by a guardian.
Oregon's Senior Safe Act makes securities industry professionals mandatory reporters for suspected elder financial exploitation. Securities professionals, such as broker-dealers and investment advisors, should use the division's file a suspected financial abuse report webpage when they suspect potential financial abuse of an Oregon senior.
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day was launched on June 15, 2006, by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations.
About Oregon DFR: The Division of Financial Regulation is part of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, Oregon's largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. Visit