Elder Financial Abuse Continues to Ravage Seniors


Financial exploitation of older Americans is a big problem and it is getting bigger. An article by Wall Street Journal columnist Kelly Greene points out that senior citizens are “very vulnerable” to fraud and refers to a recent study by the Investor Protection Trust. The study polled hundreds of regulators, financial planners, healthcare professionals, social workers and other experts. Financial scams and theft by family members and caregivers are the main areas of concern here (“Older Adults: ‘Very Vulnerable’ to Fraud”).

Other studies have shown that an investor’s ability to make sound financial decisions starts slipping at age sixty, but at the same time, investors over sixty become more confident in their ability to make those decisions. Mental slippage and overconfidence is a dangerous combination and scam artists are experts at taking advantage of it.

Elderly victims lost $2.9 billion (or more) in 2010, up from $2.6 billion in 2008, according to MetLife. Twenty percent of those over the age of 65 have been victims of financial scams. “Some of those financial scams by strangers can be ones that actually deplete the entire life savings of a senior at the worst possible time of their life,” Don Blandin, CEO of Investor Protection Trust, was quoted a saying.

More attention needs to be paid by regulators, CPAs, attorneys, and others who may be in a position to notice elder financial abuse. Hopefully that is beginning to occur. Irving Faught, head of securities regulation for Oklahoma, said: “We are on the right track in tackling financial swindles that go after older Americans.”

When elder abuse occurs at the hands of a financial professional, applicable laws may provide a number of possible avenues for recovery of losses; nevertheless, prevention is always worth a pound of cure.

Page Perry is an Atlanta-based law firm with over 170 years of collective experience maintaining integrity in the investment markets and protecting investor rights.