News and Commentary

Protecting Against Elder Financial Abuse by Robert Mark Weiss, CFA

Financial crimes against the elderly more than quadrupled between 2013 and 2017, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). While it is common for the perpetrators of these scams and thefts to be unknown by the victims, they are too often the actual people that older adults know and trust, including their appointed caregivers, fiduciaries and even their family members. Recognizing the risks and signs of financial abuse are the first steps individuals need to take to protect themselves and their elderly loved ones from these frauds.

Types of Financial Abuse

According to the CFPB, the 10 most common financial crimes committed against older adults, include the following schemes:

Understand the Definition and Role of a Fiduciary

The persons you name to manage your money or property are considered fiduciaries who you entrust to act and make decisions in your best interest. They should be loyal and trustworthy and capable of carefully managing your affairs and maintaining meticulous records. To ensure that your fiduciary carries out his or her obligations to you, it is a good idea to share their names and contact information with your trusted advisors, including lawyers, accountants, financial advisors and family members.

Be Cautious when Assigning Power of Attorney

The number one rule when selecting a person to have legal authority over your financial and health decisions is to make sure it is someone you know and trust who has knowledge of your specific wishes and needs. Naming a hired or paid caregiver as your agent under a power of attorney should be avoided at all costs. No matter who you select, be sure that you share their name and contact information with your trusted circle of friends, family members and advisors. When you plan and draw up a power of attorney in advance of a specific need, you can implement controls to protect your interest, such as requiring a lawyer or financial advisor to authorize checks or withdrawals in excess of a certain amount.

Minimize Risk through Education

Anyone can fall prey to financial crime, but the elderly are typically more at risk, especially when they are unfamiliar with managing finances, they are not technologically proficient or they are physically or cognitively impaired and dependent on others. The best form of protection against these crimes is education.

About the Author: Robert Mark Weiss, CFA, is a regional director and financial planner with Provenance Wealth Advisors, an Independent Registered Investment Advisor affiliated with Berkowitz Pollack Brant Advisors + CPAs, and a registered representative with Raymond James Financial Services.  For more information, call (941) 308-1120 or email

Provenance Wealth Advisors (PWA), 515 E. Las Olas Blvd., Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301 (954) 712-8888.

Robert Mark Weiss is a registered representative of and offers securities through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse the opinions or services of Berkowitz Pollack Brant Advisors + CPAs. PWA is not a registered broker/dealer and is independent of Raymond James Financial Services. Investment Advisory Services offered through Raymond James Financial Services Advisors, Inc., and Provenance Wealth Advisors.

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