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Senior investors and dependent adults

With many baby boomers retiring or approaching retirement, the protection of senior investors is a top priority. The number of people 65 years and older is projected to increase more than 50% between 2012 and 2030, and cognitive impairment affects more than 20 percent of adults over the age of 70. Coupled with the fact that as of 2014, retirement assets of those aged 65-74 were estimated at $3.5 trillion, senior investors make inviting targets for scammers.*

The effects of aging can diminish an individual’s ability to navigate the complexities of financial services, making seniors a prime target for financial fraud. Dependent adults are likewise vulnerable to financial exploitation. Compounding these challenges, seniors and dependent adults typically have little or no ability to rebuild vital lost assets once harmed financially.

Protect the seniors and dependent adults in your life by educating yourself on what to look for, what preventative steps to take, and what to do to report suspected abuse. See below for additional information.

*Report on the FINRA Securities Helpline for Seniors™

Financial threats to senior investors


Know the signs of financial exploitation

Protect older and dependent family members and friends from financial fraud by knowing what to look for:

Financial changes
  • Sudden, atypical withdrawals, wire transfers, or other changes in their financial situations that the senior/dependent adult cannot explain
  • Unaware of or does not understand their financial arrangements
  • Movement between bank accounts or ATM withdrawals that cannot be accounted for
  • Bank statements no longer come to their home
  • Unpaid bills, eviction notices, or notices to discontinue utilities
  • Changes in legal documents, such as a power of attorney or will, when they might not fully understand the implications
  • Absence of documentation about financial arrangements
  • Sudden increase in spending by their family or friends
  • Transfer of title of home or other assets to another person for no apparent reason
  • Personal belongings or property are missing
  • Large, unexplained loans taken out by an elder
  • Suspicious signature on checks or other documents
Behavioral/Lifestyle changes
  • Change in senior/dependent adult’s demeanor, such as fear or submissiveness, social isolation, withdrawn behavior, disheveled appearance and forgetfulness
  • Sudden reluctance to discuss financial matters
  • New “best friends” or “sweethearts”
  • Large, frequent “gifts” given to a caregiver
  • Care is not commensurate with the size of his/her estate
  • Onset or worsening of illnesses or disability
  • Caregiver expresses excessive interest in their spending habits or provides implausible explanations about their financial situation

Avoid financial fraud

  • Establish a will and/or power of attorney naming a trustworthy individual to make decisions on your behalf.
  • Consider having a trusted advisor, such as family member or HD Vest
  • Advisor, receive and review duplicate account statements.
  • Do not make major financial decisions without consulting several trusted people, such as relatives and financial professionals.
  • Have checks (such as Social Security checks) directly deposited.
  • Use automatic bill pay.
  • Communicate regularly with the bank.
  • Periodically check credit reports.
  • Hire a geriatric care manager.
  • Have proper background checks performed, including criminal checks, on any individual who may be coming into your homes to provide you assistance.
  • Keep in touch with friends and family members and be wary of anyone who tries to limit your contact with others.
  • Remember you should never sign a document that you do not fully understand.
  • Don’t give your credit card to others.
  • Keep your financial records in a safe place and shred them when it’s time to purge them from your home so they are properly disposed.
  • Consider the benefits of working with a corporate trustee.
  • Protect yourself from phone solicitations by entering your phone number into the National “Do-Not-Call” Registry on www.donotcall.gov.
  • Visit www.finra.org and select “FINRA BrokerCheck” to verify the reputation of financial advisors and institutions.

Report suspected financial abuse

If you suspect that you or someone you love are the victim of a scam, it is important not only for your own protection, but also for that of others in your community, that you report the activity immediately. If you encounter activity that seems suspicious, you can contact:

Learn more

Consult these additional resources for more information on senior and dependent adults.