Ten Thousand New Seniors Are “Born” Every Day
Approximately ten thousand Americans turn 65 every day in our country. The trend is set to continue until at least 2030. To perpetrators of financial fraud against the elderly, that means ten thousand new victims arrive every 24 hours. The result of their nefarious efforts has been estimated at losses suffered by seniors at more than $65 billion per year, and growing.
Increasing focus by the government and financial regulators has raised our national consciousness about the prevalence of elder fraud and financial abuse. From the Department of Labor to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, there has never been more attention given to abuses suffered by aging Americans — a generation that is not only the largest by population but the wealthiest in the history of the United States. While this ordinarily be grounds for rejoicing at our national bounty, there is a dark side: older Americans with unprecedented wealth have also become the targets of an equally unprecedented number of attempts to separate them from their hard-earned savings.
Perpetrators of Elder Financial Abuse Are Typically Friends, Family, and Fiduciaries
Perhaps most surprising in all of this is the nature of the perpetrators. While cyber-hackers who empty bank accounts often make headlines and stoke fear, the truth is that most perpetrators are much more close at hand. In fact, sadly many of them are family, friends, fiduciaries, and caretakers. These are the individual who have the most access to the aging; in many cases, their own financial struggles — combined with opportunity — present an irresistible situation. They just can’t seem to help helping themselves to other people’s money.
The best way to prevent elder financial abuse and fraud is to stay vigilant. While the government, regulators, and law enforcement agencies have certainly upped their game in the last few years, older individuals and investors have not fully recognized how at risk their wealth and well-being may be. Any number of frauds and scams may be coming your way every day. It’s best to know and be able to recognize them — in order not to become yet another victim in this growing problem that, inevitably, will become a problem for all of us.
Common Types of Elder Financial Fraud and Abuse
Below are some of the most common types of fraud and schemes perpetrated against aging Americans. This is by no means an exhaustive list.
Fraud: False record-keeping, forgeries, unauthorized check-writing, and pyramid schemes.
Real estate: Property sold or transferred without knowledge or consent.
Contractor: Contractor or handyman paid for work that was never competed—or even started.
Lottery scams: Third party collects a “prize” from lotteries or sweepstakes.
Electronic: Surrendering account numbers or passwords for bank or brokerage accounts (commonly called “phishing”).
Mortgage: Loans issued against property by unauthorized parties.
Investment: Investments made without the account holder’s knowledge or consent. High-fee investment products. Excessive trading activity.
Insurance: Inappropriate products or unauthorized trading of life insurance policies.