Elder financial exploitation (EFE) is the illegal or improper use of an older person’s funds, property, or assets. It is the fastest-growing form of elder abuse, as perpetrators may be family members, friends, neighbors, caregivers, health care providers, business associates, or strangers.

EFE crimes generally fall into two categories:

Elder Theft

Trusted individuals steal money or belongings from seniors. Elder theft comprises two-thirds of EFE cases.


  • Forging checks
  • Stealing retirement or Social Security benefits
  • Using credit cards or bank accounts without permission
  • Changing names on wills, bank accounts, life insurance policies, or real estate titles without permission

Elder Scams

Strangers deceive older adults into transferring money to them for promised goods, services or financial benefits which do not exist or were misrepresented.


  • Tech support scams — Scammers pose as tech repair agents to access victims’ computers and finances
  • Investment scams — Perpetrators induce investors to make purchases based on false information and promises of large returns with minimal risk
  • Romance scams — Criminals seek money from victims on dating apps and social media
  • Government or family imposter scams — Fraudsters impersonate government officials or family members to demand money
  • Lottery scams — Criminals claim victims must pay taxes or fees to access winnings from a lottery or raffle

Learn more about elder scams and their effect on seniors and the economy here.