Do not be ashamed to report it. Bruises and bumps aren't the only signs of elder abuse. Sometimes elder abuse is not physical. In fact, the most insidious kind is financial. It can come from a friendly stranger on the telephone promising a free cruise or a neighborly guy who asks for cash to repair a leaky roof.

Financial abuse is the improper use of an adult's funds, property, or resources by another individual. This includes fraud, embezzlement, forgery, falsifying records, coerced property transfers, or denial of access to assets.

Some indicators of financial abuse include:

  • Unexplained or sudden inability to pay bills
  • Unexplained or sudden withdrawal of money from accounts
  • Disparity between assets and living conditions

Nationally, there are thought to be about 5 million victims of financial abuse each year. That is based on the estimate that only 1 in 25 cases of financial abuse are reported.  Many people keep abuse a secret.  Victims often feel ashamed to report that a family member is stealing from them or embarrassed to admit they were tricked out of their money by a stranger.

Westchester seniors are encouraged to participate in a new program to prevent elder fraud and crime. Senior Crime Busters, launched this summer, is designed to teach seniors and their families ways to stay safe and avoid financial exploitation and other scams.

The new outreach effort brings officials from law enforcement, social service agencies and non-profit organizations in Westchester together to offer free presentations to senior groups.
In a typical program, seniors will learn:

  • the most common scams
  • tell-tale techniques perpetrators use
  • who to alert if they identify a scam or are victimized
  • how to protect their physical safety in daily situations

In Westchester, people 60 and older represent 20 percent of the population, or one in five residents. The initiative underscores the county’s strong commitment to protecting its older residents, who are especially vulnerable to fraud.

If you are interested in bringing Senior Crime Busters to your group, or are seeking more information, call (914) 995-2190. 

For more information on how the elderly can protect themselves against identity theft, predatory lending and other forms of fraud go to the Westchester County Department of Consumer Protection.