Know the signs of financial exploitation


Imagine receiving an email that says you won a new washer and dryer in a local competition. You just have to pay a small shipping fee to receive your equipment. Looks great, doesn’t it?

Unfortunately, there are many signs of financial exploitation in this scenario.

Financial exploitation occurs when a person illegally or unfairly acquires the assets of a vulnerable person through a scam. It can also happen through theft, deception, intimidation or undue influence. According to the Federal Trade Commission, scammers stole about $3.3 billion in 2020.* Con artists have many—often credible—methods of tricking people out of money. They can set up a fake dating profile, then ask for money for “emergencies.” Some government agencies, such as the IRS, impersonate the victim and threaten to arrest the victim unless they pay the fee. Retirees are often targeted because of their accumulated wealth, but scammers seek out people of all ages.

read the description of common scams.

see warning signs

While each scam is different, there are common red flags that indicate the request is fake, such as:

Vanguard’s Security Center

  • Asking you to pay money or taxes in order to receive a gift or prize.
  • Announcing that you have won a contest you will not miss entering.
  • The pressure on you to “act now” or ask for a deal, gift, or prize will go away.
  • Asking you to keep the details secret and not to share it with anyone.
  • Giving you a script to follow when you call your bank or financial institution.
  • Misspelling basic words or using poor grammar in communication.
  • Claiming strong feelings for you after a short conversation (common in romance scandals).

establish a reliable contact

To protect your assets, make a plan for when you are in good health. Start by talking to a trusted family member, professional or friend about your wishes for your finances. Naming a trusted contact on your account Can provide additional protection by:

  • allow us to reach you trust If we are concerned about your well-being or believe that you are being financially exploited.
  • Help us identify and contact your power of attorney or legal guardian.
  • Helping to ensure that we are notified if you develop a medical condition – particularly a form of dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease – and are no longer able to protect your interests.

We recommend choosing someone who is able to provide an informed assessment of your whereabouts, health and health status. Also, consider naming anyone who cannot transact on your accounts to help ensure fairness. If you haven’t already, consider working with an attorney to create a financial power of attorney.

protect the weak

Scammers often target the elderly, adolescents and the mentally disabled. To keep your at-risk loved ones safe, watch for warning signs such as:

  • Unexplained large or excessive withdrawal.
  • The secrecy surrounding the need for additional funding.
  • Extreme urgency about needing money.
  • Sudden changes in financial documents such as a will or power of attorney.
  • Sudden changes in bank or financial accounts.

If you believe your loved one has been the victim of financial abuse, contact their financial institutions immediately. Also consider filing a report with local law enforcement or adult protective services. If your loved one is already disabled and has not executed a financial power of attorney, consult an estate planning attorney to discuss options such as filing a petition in court for guardianship or guardianship.

be vigilant

Follow these best practices to avoid potential scams:

  • Don’t send money to someone you don’t know well. Immediately stop communicating with anyone who asks you for money.
  • If you suspect attempted fraud, talk to your bank or an expert at Vanguard.
  • Never give out personal information like your address, Social Security number, or bank information.
  • Do not click on links in emails or popups. Instead, go to the official website, such as, and find their contact number.
  • For fraudulent scams — which usually tell you a payment is overdue or your account has been compromised — visit the company’s website and log in to your account to check the information.
  • trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, stop or walk away.
  • Do your own research or consult with someone you trust before committing.

Anyone can be a victim of economic exploitation. What’s even worse is that it can happen at the hands of a family member, friend, or caregiver. We want to help you stay in control and support you when you care for vulnerable loved ones. To keep your hard earned money safe that’s why we are here.

*Source: Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Information 2020

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