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Financial elder abuse: How and why

Most elderly wouldn’t be very happy with being compared to a young adult or child. Older adults are life’s seasoned veterans. They have been through the wringer and experienced most everything. At least most everything that the day to day citizen would experience throughout their life. Some elderly may have lived an extraordinary life, while others’ lives were more mundane but beautiful just the same. They have lived through dozens of ups and downs, but yet they are easy targets for abuse.

When people discuss elder abuse, one category, financial abuse, isn’t often given the credence it deserves. Financial elder abuse is too common not to have a pedestal. Whether the elderly are too gullible or too trusting, it doesn’t change the fact that seniors are exploited out of $2.6 billion per year on average. And that figure is likely much high as 43 of 44 cases of financial abuse are unreported.

How are elders abused financially?

Common examples of how seniors get financially scammed include:

  • Identity theft
  • Lottery scams
  • Signature forging on checks
  • Pushing the senior to sign their will, deed or power of attorney abuse, so the scammer financially benefits after the senior dies
  • Theft
  • Telemarketing or email scams (fake calls from credit card companies, fake calls from the police claiming their identity was stolen, Nigerian prince, foreign lottery winner, mystery shopper)

There are common characteristics among the elderly that get exploited. In many cases, seniors that have to overcome financial abuse lonely and in search of companionship, are socially isolated, have mental or physical disabilities, are mourning or are uneducated about money. If the exploited senior has any immediate family with substance abuse and is experiencing unexpected money troubles, don’t hesitate to suspect the family member.


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