Protect your assets against financial exploitation

Key Points

  • Cognitive decline (age-related changes in the brain) can make even high-functioning, healthy adults prone to financial exploitation.
  • To protect your assets or those of a family member, know how to spot the signs.
  • We are here to help support you — be sure to work with your Ameriprise financial advisor.

Imagine a beloved family member or friend working a lifetime, only to see their savings lost to financial exploitation later in life. Your Ameriprise advisor, with support from Ameriprise anti-fraud teams, can help protect your assets at every stage of life. 


How to spot financial exploitation

Industry trade group SIFMA (Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association) reports that financial exploitation — the illegal or improper use of a vulnerable adult’s funds, property or assets — is becoming a bigger issue that crosses racial, ethnic and economic lines. Cognitive decline, or age-related changes in the brain, can make even high-functioning, healthy adults more prone to exploitation, so it’s critical to know the signs.

  • Who is at risk? Seniors tend to be more at risk because they may have significant savings, have instilled values of trust for professionals and may be more likely to live alone. Seniors lose roughly $2.9 billion annually in media-reported cases,1 yet authorities receive reports of only one in 44 cases of financial exploitation.2
  • What happens? Perpetrators manipulate victims to access money, property or assets. Examples include taking money out of financial accounts without permission, forging signatures, talking someone into wiring money, accessing financial emails and accounts and pressuring someone to sign legal documents such as a contract or will.
  • Who are the perpetrators? About 90% of financial abusers are family members or someone in a position of trust.3 However, romance scams against those who have recently lost a spouse are common and involve international wire transfers of large amounts of money. Lottery scams are also common.


How to protect your assets

  • Set up a power of attorney. This may be the most important step you can take to help protect your family’s assets. A person designated with power of attorney is someone you trust who can legally act on your behalf for financial and other matters. You decide what your power of attorney can and cannot do for you.
  • Provide your advisor with a trusted contact person. To help protect senior investors and vulnerable adults, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) established national standards in 2018 with two levels of protection:

    • Your advisor may request from you the name and contact information of a trusted contact for your account. The intention is to provide your advisor and Ameriprise with someone to contact and disclose information about your account if we suspect financial exploitation or need to confirm the identify of your legal representatives (such as a power of attorney). The trusted contact person cannot make transactions in your account.
    • Ameriprise may place a temporary hold on the disbursement of funds or securities when there is a reasonable belief of financial exploitation and can notify your trusted contact.
  • Review your financial goals, progress and investments regularly with your advisor. Your advisor can provide you with personalized financial advice to help you stay on track to achieve your goals and protect your assets.


Talk to us first

Ameriprise and your advisor are here to help support you and your family members. Ask your advisor for more information on how to safeguard your assets.

If someone is pressuring you or a family member, or something just feels off, trust your gut: Your advisor is always available to discuss your concerns and provide support.