Keep Senior Citizens Safe from Financial Exploitation
Financial exploitation of the elderly is a form of abuse that is growing in numbers.

Submitted by ltownsend on March 24, 2021

An alarming number of people know someone who has been scammed out of money in some way due to age vulnerability.

Here are some staggering statistics on financial exploitation among senior citizens in the U.S.  Elderly couple

  • Approximately 1 in 20 senior citizens have reported some form of elder financial abuse or exploitation, according to the National Adult Protective Services Association, or NAPSA
  • 90% of financial elder abusers are family members or friends of the victim
  • Seniors in the U.S. are scammed out of an average of $3 billion to $37 billion annually
  • Elder financial abuse is self-reported at a higher rate than emotional, physical and sexual abuse or neglect
  • Between 2013 and 2017, seniors over age 70 lost an average of $41,800 to elder financial exploitation, according to the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
  • Seniors scammed by strangers lost an average of $17,000 while those ripped off by someone they knew lost an average of $50,200, according to the Bureau
  • In 2019, the Department of Justice announced the largest crackdown on elder fraud in U.S. history, although cases still go largely unreported, with only 1 in 44 cases ever coming to light (NAPSA)

It’s Time to Educate and Protect

The best way to protect senior citizens from becoming victims of financial abuse is to stay educated and know the warning signs of this type of fraud. Senior citizens are often victims of financial fraud due to the vulnerability of old age. It is important for them to have a trusted advocate and even protector as their mental and physical health declines. 

Tips to Protect Senior Citizens from Financial Exploitation

With one in 20 senior citizens in the U.S. reportedly being scammed out of their money, elder financial exploitation is something to be concerned about. Whether you have witnessed this firsthand with loved ones, or you simply want to protect them before it’s too late, read these tips from AARP and CNBC to keep the seniors in your life safe.

  1. Think ahead – While your loved one is mentally sharp, talk to them about their wishes for the future and help them make a plan by designating power of attorney and healthcare directives. 
  2. Stay connected – Keep in regular contact with your loved ones through frequent calls, texts, emails and visits.
  3. Build trust with sensitive financial matters – If no one else has eyes on their financials, they could be getting scammed for months without catching it. Become the trusted financial advocate your loved one needs.
  4. Set up separate accounts – If your loved one is willing, set up several separate accounts so that they aren’t completely wiped out should they fall victim to a scam.
  5. Set up direct deposit – Have checks deposited directly into their account so others don’t have the opportunity to cash them.  
  6. Track financial activity  – Look into financial tracking tools like EverSafe, which will track financial activity and make the user aware of any suspicious withdrawals or spending. 
  7. Know before you sign – Never sign any documents that you don’t understand. 
  8. Recognize the red flags –Be aware of the sudden reappearance of any friend or family member who has been largely absent in your loved one’s life or multiple requests to change account ownership. Unfortunately, most cases of elder financial abuse are committed by someone the victim knows.
  9. Trust your gut – If something feels off or things are not adding up with your loved one’s finances, follow your intuition and get help. 
  10. Report any wrongdoing – If you’re convinced someone is scamming your loved one out of their money, you can contact Skyward at 1-833-759-1941 and we will be glad to help you. You can also contact Adult Protection Services immediately and file a report with your local police department. 

To read more about scams against the elderly, please go to FTC’s Consumer Information at https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/scams/scams-against-older-adults or visit the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA) at  https://www.napsa-now.org/get-informed/exploitation-resources/