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What Elder Financial Exploitation Looks Like

As Baby Boomers continue to retire and advance in age, increasing numbers of American seniors are at risk of falling victim to schemes aimed at separating them from their money.
The risks are substantial. A 2014 survey by True Link Financial claims that 36.9% of seniors lose money to scams, financial exploitation, and abuse over any given five-year period. And while hard to quantify, a 2016 update to Allianz’s Safeguarding Our Seniorsstudy estimated the average loss to victims at $36,000—considered a “major financial loss” or “financial ruin” by nearly half of caregiver respondents. Those respondents also reported that 40% of seniors in their care experienced financial exploitation more than once, up from 20% in its 2014 study. Lamentably, such losses often aren’t reported when discovered and they’re rarely recovered.
But in many cases, there are warning signs—and caregivers and close family members are often in the best position to spot possible financial exploitation. Here are some common red flags.

Listen for tipoffs

Take note if a senior you’re close to says something like:
  • “People are asking me for money.”
  • “I’ve been pressured to give money away or to change my will.”
  • “My money seems to be disappearing.”
  • “I think someone may be accessing my accounts.”
  • “Sometimes I make loans or give gifts that make me uncomfortable.”
  • “My bills are confusing to me.”
  • “I don’t feel confident making financial decisions alone.”
  • “I don’t understand financial decisions that someone else is making for me.

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