Financial elder abuse is a growing problem in the U.S. as more people move into old age.

The abuse of our elderly continues to rise, and sadly is often committed by the the elderly victim’s own family or the court guardians. At a recent hearing of the Senate Committee on Aging, Claire McCaskill (D-MO) stated, “According to the most recent published statistics, the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services received over 17,000 initial reports of abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation of seniors in one year. It’s unclear, however, how many of these cases involve financial exploitation specifically. Unfortunately, the extent of elder abuse by guardians is relatively unknown to us due to the limited data that we have available. It’s important that we continue to prioritize data collection in this space so that we can better understand the scope of the issue.

According to the National Council on Aging the average cost of an elder financial abuse scam is $36,000.  A survey of active caregivers in 2016 reported that 37% of the elders to whom they provide services were either financially abused or exploited. And of those, 40% were abused more than once. (Source: Baby Boomers Beware: Financial Fraud That Targets Seniors)

We will be discussing the various forms of scams which our elderly are being subjected in the coming weeks here on Senior Online Safety.

In the interim, if you are a caregiver, have a chat with your elder person about how to avoid the various scams which are targeting the elderly and how to report, without shame, if they fall victim to a scam.

DEFINITION of ‘Financial Elder Abuse’
Financial elder abuse is the financial exploitation of the elderly. Financial elder abuse can take many forms – older people can be deceived by people they know, businesses or strangers. Common tactics are the unauthorized use of the victim’s assets, gaining power of attorney under false pretenses or engaging in outright fraud. Most financial elder abuse is characterized by abusing the victim’s expectation of trust.Warning signs of financial elder abuse include a sudden loss of money, unusual behavior (financial or otherwise) or new close friends. Financial elder abuse is predominantly committed by family members or those who feel they are entitled to the elderly person’s money.Source: Investopedia