It’s hard to believe that an otherwise trustworthy family member would choose to scam a relative. Unfortunately, family fraud is a common problem.  Part of the reason is that it’s often easy for the scammer to access private information.

Further, a recent study from the Keck School of Medicine at USC  suggests that relatives may pose a higher threat to financial elder abuse than strangers.  So even if your aging family member knows to watch out for scammers on the phone and online, they might overlook signs of fraud within the walls of their own home.

Watch for Signs of Family Fraud

How can you tell if a loved one is falling victim to family fraud? Watch for these common signs:

  • One Person Handles all the Finances: If one family member has stepped in to take care of all financial details, it’s possible they might be skimming off the top without anyone knowing. The best solution to avoid this risk is by having at least two family members involved. This might include regular reconciliation of bank accounts and monitoring transactions on credit cards.
  • Bounced Checks: Having an account run low on money unexpectedly could be a sign that someone is making withdrawals. When the bank account balance dips lower than expected, it’s important to identify where the money is going. Also, pay attention to those with access to the account.
  • New Purchases: Does the caretaker suddenly have new things, such as electronics, a car, or other items that are hard to explain? When a caretaker’s spending habits suddenly change, it might signal that they are accessing money from an elderly victim.
  • Other Forms of Abuse: Too often, financial abuse goes hand-in-hand with other forms of abuse. For example, if the elderly relative is missing medication or important healthcare treatments, it could be a warning that the money is being spent elsewhere.

At Senior Safe and Sound, we are focused on educating families on the best strategies for preventing elder abuse. Contact us if you need additional support or information. We can be reached by email at or by phone at 858-480-7551.

This information is intended to inform the public at large about this important issue. It is not intended to serve as legal or medical advice.