New York, NY (PRWEB) August 10, 2012
As the nation continues to age, the elderly demographic is more frequently becoming a target for scams and financial abuse. The elderly are seemingly easy prey for those looking to take advantage of others for their own personal gain.
Authorities have seen a rise in the number of thieves scamming senior citizens out of millions of dollars each year through improper relationships or illegal schemes. These schemes range from telemarketing and Internet ploys to confidence games perpetrated by trusted advisers or family members.
A federal study in 2009 found that 5 percent of Americans over the age of 60 have been financially exploited by a family member, and another 6.5 percent were conned by nonfamily members. A report by a large insurance company noted the increase in elder financial abuse, which saw annual losses amount to $2.9 billion last year.
The Victims of Elder Financial Abuse
Many older individuals rely heavily on care providers and nursing homes to take care of them physically. While sometimes these individuals also receive financial care from their in-home care providers or assisted living centers, many of them rely on family members or others to help provide guidance in financial affairs. Unfortunately, it is all too easy for trust to be placed in the wrong person.
This misplaced trust, coupled with a lack of technology sophistication and Internet savvy, often makes older individuals more susceptible to fraud.
Sadly, many elderly people who worked and saved for retirement their entire lives see their hard-earned money vanish in a moment because of fraud or financial abuse. And beyond the financial repercussions, there can be a mental anguish that is as impactful as losing money.
In fact, many people who fall victim to cons are so embarrassed about it that they may not even report it to authorities or family members. Researchers believe that only a small fraction of elder financial abuse is actually reported to authorities.
Common Elder Financial Abuse Schemes
To prevent this anguish and emotional turmoil, friends and family members should know what to look for. Talk to your loved ones on a regular basis and be able to recognize the signs of elderly abuse.
In addition, educate your loved ones about the most common financial scams used on older individuals. Three of the most recent cons include:
- The grandparent scam. An imposter calls posing as a grandchild in need of cash, usually because of an arrest or an accident or even so they can get home from a military post overseas. The scammers ask the elderly individual to send money, but to not tell anyone else about the money transfer.
- The lottery scam. Elderly individuals are told that they won a sweepstakes or lottery, but must make a tax or fee payment before they can claim their prize.
- The toilet paper scam. Elderly victims with septic tanks are told that they must purchase a special toilet paper to comply with new regulations and prevent damaging their septic systems.
It is unquestionable that fraud against seniors is on the rise; it is unknown whether it will get worse as the baby boomer generation begins moving to nursing homes and assisted living centers. If you suspect physical or financial abuse of an elderly loved one, talk to a lawyer to protect your loved one’s legal rights.