Scams targeting the elderly usually happen over the phone, through the mail, or over the Internet, but a new report found the most common source of elderly financial abuse is from their own family members.

Rene Breland, the Director of Aging Programs at the Top of Alabama Regional Council of Governments, TARCOG, said it may start out with someone wanting to help out their family members. Then it grows into them being taken advantage of.  In many cases, the family member already has access to all of their financial information because they were trusted.

“People are very hesitant, many times they’re embarrassed, they don’t want anyone else to know that, or they don’t even. With that person taking advantage of them financially, they don’t want to get them in trouble,” said Breland.

To avoid this, Breland said people should keep their records in a confidential place and set up alerts with their bank and get legal help if necessary. TARCOG offers free elder law legal services.

She also says family and friends should watch out for changing spending habits and know that seniors who are being financially taken advantage of are also vulnerable to neglect, and mental or physical abuse.

If you see someone going through those issues, call the Department of Human Resources and you can anonymously report it to Adult Protective Services.