While likely under-reported, estimates of elder financial abuse and fraud costs to older Americans range from $2.9 billion to $36.5 billion annually. *
Elder financial abuse spans a broad spectrum of conduct. It can include taking money or property; forging an older person’s signature; getting an older person to sign a deed, will or power of attorney through deception, coercion or undue influence; using the older person’s property or possessions without permission; and more.
Sadly, perpetrators of elder financial abuse are, more often than not, trusted loved ones of the older person, including family members (sons, daughters, grandchildren, spouses, etc.) and close friends. Other perpetrators included predatory individuals who seek out vulnerable seniors with the intent of exploiting them, and unscrupulous professionals or business people – or persons posing as such.
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If you, as a senior or friend or relative of a senior, suspect elder financial abuse may be occurring, there are several outlets for assistance. The Senior Legal Hotline offers advice on a wide range of issues at 800-222-1753. Information is also available through the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse at www.preventelderabuse.org
and the Elder Financial Protection Network at www.bewiseonline.org
*Source: National Council on Aging