This World Elder Abuse Awareness Day older Australians are being encouraged to stay alert for the warning signs of financial abuse and scams, coinciding with new CommBank research which found this age group may be at higher risk.

The survey of almost 2,000 Australians aged 65+ revealed more than 1 in 4 (28 per cent) have experienced financial abuse or know someone who has. Of those who are experiencing financial abuse, more than half (52 per cent) believe they can deal with the behaviours of financial abuse themselves.

The research indicates there may be some stigma around talking about finances that leaves older Australians more vulnerable. Almost 4 in 10 (38 per cent) say they have negative or mixed feelings about discussing money with family or friends. The majority (70 per cent) say they discuss money matters with their family or friends every 2-3 months or less – significantly less frequently than any other age group, such as 64 per cent of millennials who have money conversations on a monthly basis.

An overwhelming 9 in 10 of those surveyed believe there would be barriers for those experiencing financial abuse in seeking support, and most (6 in 10) would not be confident that they would know how to help someone experiencing it.

Angela MacMillan, Group Customer Advocate at CommBank, said: “Disturbingly anyone can become a victim of a scam, fraud or financial abuse, regardless of age. However, as people age, they can be at higher risk of being taken advantage of financially.

“The CommBank Safe & Savvy guide has been designed to help older Australians avoid financial abuse, scams, and fraud. It details the necessary tools to protect themselves from financial abuse and highlights the support available if they suspect they are experiencing it,” Ms MacMillan said.

Elder financial abuse can take many forms and can include one-off or repeated actions, threats or lack of action. The most 10 common types of elder financial abuse are:

  1. Abusing power of attorney
  2. Pressure threats and intimidation
  3. Scams and fraud
  4.  Abusing informal family agreements
  5. Improper use of funds
  6. Theft
  7. Inheritance impatience
  8. Guarantors gone wrong
  9. Failure to provide promised care
  10. Emotional blackmail

“We believe in empowering Australians of all ages to make informed financial decisions that positively impact their lives. World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is an important reminder for us to stay vigilant about financial abuse. The easiest way we can do that is by prioritising conversations about money and knowing the warning signs.

“The Safe & Savvy guide will help older Australians look out for financial abuse, scams, and fraud. It will provide them with the necessary tools to protect themselves from financial abuse and help them feel more confident when discussing money with their loved ones,” Ms MacMillan said.

The Safe & Savvy Guide has been developed by Commonwealth Bank, the Council on the Ageing (COTA), National Seniors, Seniors Rights Service and State Trustees Limited.

Read the Safe & Savvy Guide here. For more information on Next Chapter, visit:

About the research

The research was conducted by YouGov in accordance with the Australian Polling Council standard. The survey is a nationally representative sample comprised of 10,008 Australians aged 18 years and older. The sample of Australians aged 65+ is 1,914.

This study was conducted online between 1st May 2023 and 11th May 2023. Following the completion of interviewing, the data was weighted by age, gender, region, household income and highest level of education to reflect the latest ABS population estimates. 

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