Empower Blog

February 08, 2022

Tips to Protect Against Fraud Exploitation

Fraud and Security
Financial exploitation can be categorized as forgery, misappropriation of financial resources, or abusive financial control, costing victims $36.5 billion each year, according to the National Council on Aging. More worrying, 90% of all fraudulent and scam activity happens with people we know and trust.

Here are a few ways you can be alert to the warning signs of financial exploitation for yourself and your loved ones.

How to Identify Financial Exploitation

Financial exploitation most often occurs in a seemingly trusted relationship, such as a victim’s family member, caretaker or neighbor. Often individuals suffering from financial exploitation are isolated from others. Perpetrators prey upon the elderly or vulnerable adults, such as someone who has recently lost a spouse or an individual with a disability. Social media can be a hunting ground for offenders targeting victims, impersonating a friend from the past, or a new love connection.

Red Flags for Suspicious Activity

Some warning signs you or a loved one may have fallen victim to financial exploitation include:

  • Items missing from your home
  • Money missing from accounts
  • Large wire transfers coming in and out
  • Suspicious debit card transactions and withdraws
  • Sudden Transfer of Deeds or Power of Attorney
  • Applying for credit cards or loans they don't need
  • Opening new CashApp or Venmo accounts

More subtle signs might include someone unexpectedly appearing in a victim's life, such as a loved one suddenly getting visits or phone calls from someone you don’t know.

Many times, victims of financial exploitation are embarrassed, causing them to withdraw from their usual activities or close relationships. Some may even be aware they are being taken advantage of but are too afraid of the consequences of losing a relationship with their abuser, who may be a family member or close friend, to say anything.

How to Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones

These are some actions you can take in protecting yourself and your loved ones from financial exploitation:

  • Add a joint signer to your accounts
  • Visit your county’s Adult Protective Services to connect with an advocate
  • Visit The Department Of Justice's website, a federal initiative assisting the elderly

Adding a joint signer to your account allows you to have a second set of eyes on your transactions that can help you be mindful of any fraudulent activity. If you or your loved one doesn't have anyone to fulfill this role, we’re here to help. We can connect you to an organization focused on protecting vulnerable adults.

Ensure your financial safety by never sending money to anyone you have not met in person. Don't fall victim to a scammer contacting you through social media in need of funds for any reason. Perpetrators take advantage of isolated individuals by offering them the promise of love or companionship. Staying in regular contact with the elderly or vulnerable adults in your life reminds them they are not alone.

If you think you have been a victim of financial exploitation, come into CommunityAmerica today. We have the tools to guide you out of financial loss. Listen to our recent podcast, where I sat down with Amanda Roberts, Investigations Analyst, for more on this topic.

This article is should not be viewed as personalized financial advice and is not a substitute for consultation with your financial representative. Any reference to third-party websites are provided for information purposes only and are not endorsed by CommunityAmerica. Please visit CommunityAmerica.com to learn more about how we can assist you in achieving your Financial Peace of Mind.

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About the Author
roxanne doss
Roxanne Doss

Fraud Investigations Manager

Roxanne Doss has a Certified Identity Theft Risk Management Specialist (CITRMS) credential that helps CommunityAmerica and our members combat the increasing problem of identity theft. In 2016, she earned her CFE credential from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE).