- December 24, 2020
- Steve Heisler
- Senior Injuries
There is nothing more despicable than the exploitation of the aging population, let alone any age group. Elder abuse occurs in many forms, including financial exploitation. Financial elder abuse and exploitation accounts for more than $36 billion in losses to seniors. It is considered a form of elder mistreatment because there is an interaction with a trusted person. A trusted person can even be someone the senior met over the phone. The trust can be established in just ten or fifteen minutes.
Financial entitlement is another form of elder mistreatment. Most of the time, financial entitlement starts within a family. Adult children feel entitled to their parents’ money. When adult children steal money from their parents, it is, in fact, theft. However, many times the children and even the seniors don’t think of it that way. Adult children will see it as their inheritance, and they’re just using it early. It really puts a wet blanket on the discussion. Finances have unfortunately become a taboo topic in our society. Seniors need to have someone they trust on their side.
Over half of all seniors said they wished they had someone to talk to about their finances. Unfortunately, scammers know this statistic all too well. A scammer will present themselves as a very sympathetic ear at first to talk to about the senior’s problems. Scams can come in all shapes and sizes. One that has recently earned a lot of attention is the Catfish scam. Someone who is a Catfish will take another person’s photos (usually without their consent) and pose as them on the internet looking for love. If an elderly person is looking for love online, this scam can cost them a lot of money. Of course, the Catfish isn’t actually interested in love; they are interested in the other party’s bank account. The scammer will create an eloquent trap that seems almost too good to be true.
Family Member Scams
Seniors with memory loss and poor problem-solving abilities are at significant risk of being a scam victim. These seniors most likely do not have a strong ability to manage their finances. Usually, they will have forgotten how much money they gave someone. For instance, one grandfather thought that he had given his grandson only $2,000. When it was investigated, the grandfather had actually sent his grandson $180,000. Like mentioned earlier, family members can scam their loved ones. But also, people posing as family members can scam elders too. People will pose as the senior’s child or grandchild asking for money. Often, they tell the seniors that they are in jail and require bail money. A senior might get confused, panic, and give in to the demand.
The Senior Safe Act
The Senior Safe Act was passed by Congress and signed into law in 2019. The Act protects individual institutions, including investment advisers, broker-dealers, and transfer agents – and their eligible employees from liability in any civil or administrative proceeding in instances where those employees make a report about the potential exploitation of a senior citizen (https://www.finra.org/sites/default/files/2019-05/senior_safe_act_factsheet.pdf). It is trying to get financial institutions to understand they need to train everybody who works there about financial exploitation decision-making. We’re seeing some benefits to that. Financial institutions are starting to realize that they need to do more. We still need them to continue to be pressured, do more, have some more skin in the game in terms of penalties, and so forth.
Older Adult Nest Egg
Are you concerned that your financial decision-making is changing as you age? If you are looking for more resources for seniors, check out Older Adult Nest Egg. They have a Financial Exploitation Survey. Older adults themselves can go on their website, go on the older adult landing page, take the survey, and see if they are at enhanced vulnerability for exploitation. Then, Older Adult Nest Egg, we give you some ideas for the next steps. You will learn whether you are at higher risk of being exploited and whether or not you have some of those vulnerabilities associated with the case of financial exploitation. Plus, the questionnaire and results are complexly confidential. Once completed, you will be able to download the results and print them.
Also, on Older Adult Nest Egg, there are resources for people who have been victimized by scams or identity theft. If you or someone you know can’t seem to get their credit cleaned up, this resource will be a life-saver for you. There are loads of links on the website that will provide you with accurate and trustworthy information. If you want to report a scam, then we suggest that you contact the Federal Trade Commission. Simply, you tell them what happened, they tell you how you can protect yourself, and the report will help law enforcement investigations. It’s a win-win! If you want to stay up to date with what is affecting our senior population, follow The National Injured Senior Law Center on Facebook.