Download the Schwab app from iTunes®Close

5 Tips for Protecting Seniors From Financial Fraud

As retirees age, they become increasingly susceptible to schemes aimed at separating them from their hard-earned savings. More than a third of seniors lose money to exploitation over any given five-year period, according to a 2015 report by True Link Financial. And Allianz’s 2016 Safeguarding Our Seniors study estimates the average loss is some $36,000.

Caregivers and close family members are often in the best position to pick up on potential threats—assuming they know what to look for. Here are five ways to help the susceptible steer clear of trouble.

  • Listen: Pay attention to how aging loved ones talk about their finances. If they indicate they’re confused by their finances, their money seems to be disappearing or they’re being approached by suspicious individuals, it might be time to intervene.
  • Look: Keep an eye out for changes in behavior or spending habits, as these could indicate your loved one is being scammed or otherwise taken advantage of.
  • Discuss: Loved ones may be less forthcoming if they feel cornered or embarrassed, so talk in terms that leave them feeling supported rather than blamed.
  • Anticipate: Most financial institutions have additional security measures they can activate to help protect the potentially vulnerable.
  • Alert: The sooner you take steps to halt losses and recoup lost funds—which can include notifying law enforcement, Adult Protective Services and the Federal Trade Commission to report specific scams—the greater your likelihood of success.

A financial advisor is also potentially useful for spotting changes in financial behavior, says Joyce Couillard, a senior team manager in charge of fraud investigations at Schwab Financial Crimes Risk Management. “The nice thing about institutions like ours is that we’re well-positioned to pick up on abnormal or suspicious activity,” she says. “Family plays a key role, but it’s good to know there’s someone else in your corner.”

What You Can Do Next

The information provided here is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered an individualized recommendation or personalized investment advice. The investment strategies mentioned here may not be suitable for everyone. Each investor needs to review an investment strategy for his or her own particular situation before making any investment decision.

All expressions of opinion are subject to change without notice in reaction to shifting market conditions. Data contained herein from third-party providers is obtained from what are considered reliable sources. However, its accuracy, completeness or reliability cannot be guaranteed.


Thumbs up / down votes are submitted voluntarily by readers and are not meant to suggest the future performance or suitability of any account type, product or service for any particular reader and may not be representative of the experience of other readers. When displayed, thumbs up / down vote counts represent whether people found the content helpful or not helpful and are not intended as a testimonial. Any written feedback or comments collected on this page will not be published. Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. may in its sole discretion re-set the vote count to zero, remove votes appearing to be generated by robots or scripts, or remove the modules used to collect feedback and votes.