What Is Financial Exploitation or Undue Influence?

Financial exploitation is the illegal or improper use of another individual’s resources for personal profit or gain. Also referred to as “fiduciary abuse”, “economic abuse” and “financial mistreatment”, this type of exploitation encompasses a broad range of conduct.


An older adult or person with disabilities may be exploited in countless ways, and usually involves:

  • Absence of their consent
  • Trickery, intimidation, or coercion, or
  • A person who is too confused to give informed consent


Financial mistreatment of persons who are elderly or disabled can generally be classified in two broad categories: exploitation by a person known to the victim or financial abuse by a stranger.

Examples of exploitation perpetrated by a family member, acquaintance, person acting with power of attorney, or court appointed fiduciary.

  • Misappropriation of income or assets – Perpetrator obtains access to social security checks, pension payments, checking or savings account, credit card, or ATM card, or withholds portions of checks cashed for a senior citizen.
  • Charging excessive fees for goods or services – Perpetrator charges excessive rent or unreasonable fees for basic care services such as transportation, food, or medicine.
  • Obtaining money or property by undue influence, misrepresentation, or fraud – Perpetrator coerces the victim into signing over investments, real estate or other assets through the use of manipulation, intimidation or threats.
  • Improper or fraudulent use of power of attorney or fiduciary authority – Perpetrator improperly or fraudulently uses the power of attorney or other fiduciary authority to alter a will, to borrow money using the victim’s name, or to dispose of assets or income.