On World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, SCC Offers Reminders About Senior Financial Exploitation


JUN 14, 2024

RICHMOND – Seniors lose billions of dollars annually due to financial exploitation. The loss to individual victims averages tens of thousands of dollars. Many times, the financial exploitation goes unreported.

On World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (June 15), the State Corporation Commission (SCC) reminds seniors, caregivers, financial professionals and all Virginians to recognize the signs of elder financial abuse and know how to report it.

Financial abuse can take many forms, including efforts to sell seniors fraudulent investments in person, online or by phone, or attempts to access their investment accounts for personal gain. It can be perpetrated by friends, family, caregivers, financial professionals or strangers. Seniors who have disabilities, rely on others for help or are socially isolated are especially vulnerable.

“Senior financial exploitation can happen anywhere, anytime and to anyone,” said Doug Joyce, director of the State Corporation Commission’s Division of Securities and Retail Franchising (Division). “Increasingly, seniors are being targeted by scammers. Perpetrators often strike when seniors are most vulnerable such as during a health crisis or after the death of a loved one. Social isolation and seniors’ increased reliance on the internet for many daily activities only compound the problem.”

In some cases, scammers may target their victims using personal details gleaned from obituaries and social media posts. Some may exploit established relationships within a senior’s social and support groups to become more involved in their life.

Possible red flags of senior financial abuse include the following:

  • Surrendering passwords and control of finances to a new or overly protective friend or caregiver;
  • Suspicious signatures on checks or other documents;
  • Unusual activity in investment or bank accounts, including large, frequent or unexplained withdrawals or transfers between accounts;
  • Unusual or sudden changes to beneficiary designations or to legal or financial documents involving investments, such as power of attorney, wills, trusts, retirement accounts or insurance policies, or documents that suddenly go missing;
  • Unexplained financial activities, such as the disappearance or “gifting” of assets, valuables or securities;
  • Fear of or sudden change in feelings toward friends or family members; and
  • A lack of knowledge by a senior about their financial status or reluctance to discuss financial matters.

Joyce encourages Virginians who suspect they or a loved one are the victims of investment fraud or possible senior financial exploitation to contact the Division by telephone (in Richmond at 804-371-9051 or toll-free at 1-800-552-7945), or by email at SRF_General@scc.virginia.gov. Additional information is available on the Division’s Invest Wisely web page at InvestWiselyVA.com.

The North American Securities Administrators Association, of which the Division is a member, also has developed resources to help individuals identify investment fraud and know how to report suspected elder financial abuse. These resources are available at nasaa.org/investor-education/senior-investor-resource-center/.


Contact: Katha Treanor, 804-371-9141