Financial fragility and scam susceptibility in community dwelling older adults

J Elder Abuse Negl. 2022 Mar-May;34(2):93-108. doi: 10.1080/08946566.2022.2070568. Epub 2022 Apr 28.


We tested the hypothesis that financial fragility is associated with higher scam susceptibility in older adults without dementia. Data came from nearly 900 community-dwelling participants from two ongoing cohort studies of aging. Financial fragility was determined by assessing an individual's ability to access $2,000 within a month for an unexpected expense. Scam susceptibility was assessed via a 5-item instrument that measures perceptions and behaviors that predispose older adults to financial fraud and scams. On average, participants were 82 years of age. Nearly 10% reported financial fragility. Financial fragility was higher in Blacks and among those with fewer years of education, lower income, lower global cognition, lower literacy, and poorer financial decision-making. Regression analysis revealed that financially fragile older adults were more susceptible to scams. These data suggest that targeted efforts to reduce financial fragility and improve literacy and cognitive health are needed to prevent elder exploitation among diverse populations.

Keywords: Financial fragility; aging; cognition; financial literacy; scam susceptibility.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / psychology
  • Cognition
  • Cohort Studies
  • Elder Abuse*
  • Humans
  • Independent Living*