By June 15, 2020Knowledge Center

Employees at TFNB Your Bank For Life’s Downtown Waco Location wearing purple in support of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

By Mallory Harrington, CAMS, CBAP

June 15th is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. This day aims to focus global attention on the problem of physical, emotional, and financial abuse of elders. You can show your support by wearing purple on this day.

FinCEN (Financial Crimes Enforcement Network) analysis of elder financial exploitation Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) filed between October 2013 and August 2019 indicates elders face an increased threat to their financial security by both domestic and foreign actors.

In August 2019, with only a partial year of data, the amount of activity reported was $5 billion. This dollar amount represents money that was exploited from elders and losses that are potentially devastating for the individual.  Elder abuse, including financial exploitation, is generally reported, and investigated at the local level, with Adult Protective Services, District Attorney’s offices, Sheriff’s offices, and police departments taking key roles.

Exploitation includes a caretaker’s illegal use of a senior’s resources for monetary or personal benefit, profit, or gain. Seniors may need help with their finances, but unless they hand control over to another person, they have the same right as anyone else to receive, spend, invest, save, or give away their money. A family member, “friend,” or nursing home may not take control of a senior’s money without that person’s permission.  Theft by family members and caregivers often occurred over time in relatively small amounts, but totaled amounts likely represented a major portion of an elder person’s wealth.

Financial exploitation is the illegal or improper use of another person’s money or property for personal profit or gain. Financial exploitation of adults who are elderly or disabled is an increasing problem, and protecting them from becoming victims is everyone’s business.  Below are some red flags of persons or entities perpetrating illicit activity against the elderly:

Erratic or unusual banking transactions, or changes in banking patterns:

  • Frequent large withdrawals, including daily maximum currency withdrawals from an ATM.
  • Sudden Non-Sufficient Fund activity.
  • Uncharacteristic nonpayment for services, which may indicate a loss of funds or access to funds.
  • Debit transactions that are inconsistent for the elder.
  • Uncharacteristic attempts to wire large sums of money.
  • Closing of CDs or accounts without regard to penalties.

Interactions with customers or caregivers:

  • A caregiver or other individual shows excessive interest in the elder’s finances or assets, does not allow the elder to speak for himself, or is reluctant to leave the elder’s side during conversations.
  • The elder shows an unusual degree of fear or submissiveness toward a caregiver or expresses a fear of eviction or nursing home placement if money is not given to a caretaker.
  • The financial institution is unable to speak directly with the elder, despite repeated attempts to contact him or her.
  • A new caretaker, relative, or friend suddenly begins conducting financial transactions on behalf of the elder without proper documentation.
  • The customer moves away from existing relationships and toward new associations with other “friends” or strangers.
  • The elderly individual’s financial management changes suddenly, such as through a change of power of attorney to a different family member or a new individual.
  • The elderly customer lacks knowledge about his or her financial status or shows a sudden reluctance to discuss financial matters.

Abuse of a senior who is not in a health care facility can be reported to Adult Protective Services at (800) 252-5400.


Mallory Harrington is the BSA Officer at TFNB Your Bank for Life in Waco, Texas.  Working in the financial industry for over ten years, Mallory specializes in Bank Secrecy Act compliance, anti-money laundering, fraud, and financial crimes.  Mallory has a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Sam Houston State University and is a Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist