Elder financial abuse is running rampant. It is considered the crime of our times and many seniors are falling victim to the preying hands of perpetrators. Because these crimes are hard to prosecute, they are prevalent in the senior community as the risk of getting caught is low and the ability to get an elderly person to participate in these schemes can be seen as an easy target.
Elder Abuse Statistics
These elder financial abuse statistics are startling and show the prevalence of these crimes.
- In the last 12 months, one in nine seniors has reported being abused, neglected or exploited.
- 90 percent of abusers are family members or close friends.
- Only one in 44 cases of elder financial abuse is ever reported.
- One in ten elders that are victims of financial abuse must turn to Medicaid as a direct result of the financial fraud committed against them.
- As many as 5 million elders are abused each year.
Elder Abuse Financial Exploitation
The mental state of many elderly individuals makes them the direct focus of these scams, causing them to lose financial security by trusting in someone they believe was going to help them. Many of the people that take advantage of seniors in a vulnerable state are family members. They use the power of love to trick an elderly person and exploit them financially to satisfy their own needs.
Others also take advantage of a senior’s ability to trust. This category includes neighbors, friends, and professionals like doctors or attorneys. Because these members are an intimate part of a senior’s life, it is easy for an elderly person to believe they have their best interests at heart and are not deceiving them in any way.
Seniors that are feeling isolated or depressed are more susceptible to these advances of elder financial abuse as the new-found attention is welcome. They often feel as though they are getting a much-needed service or helping someone they care about with the problem in their lives.
Seniors that have recently lost a loved one are more susceptible as well as those with decreased mental capacity from illnesses such as dementia or Alzheimer’s as the senior can easily be duped and confused by what the scammer is saying, falling into the hands of elder abuse and financial exploitation.
Elder Abuse Scams
With the elderly holding as much as 70 percent of the nation’s wealth, many of the scams that occur today are aimed at them directly. This can put seniors in a precarious situation as they stand to lose everything they have worked for including their home and savings by falling for these scams.
Some of the scams that criminals use against the elderly include:
- Health insurance scams involving Medicare
- Prescription drug scams with counterfeit drugs
- Scams involving cemeteries or funerals
- Anti-aging products that prey on a senior’s search for youth
- Telemarketing scams
- Email and internet fraud
- Investment scams
- Sweepstake and lottery winning scams
- Reverse mortgages or homeowner scams
- Grandparent scam that preys on the heartstrings of the elderly and their grandchildren
Preventing Elder Financial Abuse
Keeping seniors safe from elder financial abuse includes keeping a watchful eye on their financial status and being vigilant of new friends that suddenly appear in their lives. Drug abusers can also focus in on the elderly, as a means to support their habit. Keeping these individuals away and knowing who your parent is dealing with at all times can reduce the possibility of elder financial abuse from happening.
Also, watch for these signs that your parent is experiencing elder financial abuse.
- Unpaid bills or late notices
- Explained bank withdrawals
- Missing bank statements
- New legal documents
- Unusual interest in your parent’s financial status by others
- Missing property
- Excuses for missing money by your parent
- Missing documentation on financial arrangements
- Suspicious activity by friend or family member around your parent
- Unexplained signatures on checks
Preventing your parent from becoming a victim of elder financial abuse means you need to keep a watchful eye and investigate any activity that seems suspicious. Protect your parent from the falling hands of predators and make sure their finances are secure, especially if they are in a diminished state. With your help, your parent doesn’t have to become a statistic and can live a financially secure life.