One of the problems that confronts the elder law community is that of elder financial abuse. When you examine the statistics it is amazing to see how much money is lost by instances of this nefarious activity. According to the MetLife Mature Market Institute, some $2.9 billion is lost annually due to elder financial abuse. Their figures would indicate that elder financial abuse is on the rise, but it is an issue that is difficult to analyze because of the fact that so many cases go unreported.
According to a paper entitled Combating Financial Exploitation/Crimes Against the Elderly that was authored by experts Lisa Nerenberg and Lori Delagrammatikus only one out of every 25 cases of elder financial abuse is ever reported to the authorities.
This is largely because most incidents of elder financial abuse are perpetrated by family members, friends, neighbors, or trusted advisers of the victims. What a paradox! On the one hand the elder who has been abused doesn’t want to get the abuser in trouble with the law; on the other hand the senior actually needs the care that is being provided by the perpetrator.
The Internet provides new opportunities for people who would like to target our nation’s seniors. Many older Americans are not especially computer savvy, and because loneliness is common among seniors they may be more prone to engage in interaction over the Internet with strangers. If someone was to win over the trust of a senior citizen via e-mail exchanges or instant messaging, monetary transfers can take place with the click of a mouse.
Of course identity theft is a big problem across society, and seniors are often victimized. In a lot of cases they have good credit and they own their own homes outright, making them prime targets for unscrupulous predators.
The good news is that there are steps that you can take to mitigate your, or your family member’s, exposure to elder financial abuse. The wise course of action would be to discuss the matter with an experienced and savvy elder law attorney as soon as possible.
Author, President and Founding Attorney
Parman & Easterday