World Elder Abuse Awareness – Financial Tips for Seniors

Image of an elderly man on the phone while holding a credit card.

Updated June 12, 2024

Help spread the word for World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15.


Each year, June 15 is recognized as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD). Hawaii State FCU is committed to bring awareness about elder abuse, neglect and financial exploitation of seniors and what people can do to stop it.

It can be hard to imagine that anyone would deliberately want to harm an elderly person, but unfortunately, elder abuse is a widespread problem. Some instances of elder abuse are intended to exploit the person financially; you’ve probably heard of scams targeting seniors.

Every year, millions of seniors fall victim to financial fraud. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), in 2023, although the elderly made up just 17 percent of victims in reported fraud cases, the dollar amount of their losses were disproportionately higher. The median reported financial loss was more than $800 for elderly victims ages 70-79, nearly double the median financial loss reported by victims ages 69 and under. The median loss was even greater for victims ages 80 and over, at nearly $1,500 per loss.

Hawaii State FCU employees are trained to notice red flags, like unusual recent withdrawals or a new person accompanying an older member while handling finances at the credit union – behaviors that may identify whether a member is vulnerable or currently a victim of financial abuse. However, seniors are not only at risk when they are banking. Here are some signs to look out for and things you can do if you or a loved one is concerned about the risks of falling victim to elder financial abuse:

Be cautious with your personal information.
Calls from scammers claiming to bill collectors or salespeople are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Never give your credit card, bank account, Social Security or Medicare information to anyone over the phone, especially if you did not initiate the call. If in doubt, verify that the call is legitimate by contacting the number on your statement or the company’s official website – avoid using information provided to you by the caller.

Don’t purchase gift cards to pay for fees.
The FTC reports that a majority of financial scams targeting seniors consist of telephone calls where victims are tricked into purchasing gift cards as a form of payment. Never purchase gift cards to pay for alleged fines, penalties, or taxes or fees for sweepstakes winnings. Legitimate businesses do not require these types of payment methods.

Be wary of unsolicited messages on social media.
An increasingly popular type of scam, called a “romance scam,” is when fraudsters prey on victims through social media or dating sites. Using fake profiles, they pose as a potential romantic interest or friend, and gain their victim’s trust, eventually asking for money or financial information. Be smart about who you connect with and what information you share online.

Use caution when using public Wi-Fi.
Many shopping centers, restaurants and businesses now offer free Wi-Fi to their customers. Although convenient, these connections are often not secure. Avoid accessing bank accounts or making online purchases when on public Wi-Fi.

Take time to check on your older loved ones.
Often times, elderly victims of financial abuse are too ashamed to come forward. If you have older family members, be on alert for warning signs that they may be the victim of financial abuse:

  • Behavioral shifts: A normally confident senior who suddenly appears sullen, confused or scared.
  • Isolation: A caregiver or family member who refuses access to the senior, or tries to manage financial transactions on their behalf without permission.
  • Unexplained financial changes: Unusual changes to the senior’s financial accounts, including large withdrawals, new individuals added to accounts, or sudden and unexplained use of credit or debit cards.
  • Unpaid bills: Essential bills like a mortgage or utilities go unpaid, despite the senior having adequate funds.
  • Increases in unsolicited “junk” mail: The senior is receiving unusual amounts of phone calls, mail or emails for sweepstakes, subscriptions, or promotions promising money or free gifts.

If you believe you’re the victim of financial fraud, make sure to report it immediately. Contact your financial institution or credit card company, notify local law enforcement and report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission. For the latest in fraud news and alerts, please visit


About HSFCU Marketing

Hawaii State FCU firmly believes that financial education empowers people to make smarter decisions throughout their lives, resulting in a better financial future. We do this by providing useful financial tools such as educational blogs, online courses and free webinars on a variety of topics including planning for retirement, debt management and buying a home. For more information on these and other resources, including free financial calculators and budget-friendly recipes, visit and click on “Financial Health.”

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