One of the elder law issues of our day that is something to stay vigilant about is the growing problem of elder financial abuse. People are living longer than ever and those who reach an advanced age often suffer from diminished faculties. This can make them prime targets for those who would want to take advantage of them financially, and unfortunately many times the perpetrator is a family member or someone who is otherwise known to and trusted by the victim. For this reason it is estimated that only one out of every 25 instances of elder financial abuse is reported to the authorities.
Because of the fact that so many instances of elder financial abuse go unreported it is difficult to compile completely accurate statistics. But according to a 2009 MetLife Mature Market Institute study somewhere in the vicinity of $2.6 billion is lost each year to to elder financial abuse.
Though family members and so-called “trusted advisers” are the most common perpetrators, elders are often targeted by scam artists and con men of every ilk. They fall prey to bogus home-improvement scams, Ponzi schemes, telemarketing scams, phony investment groups, mortgage fraud, etc. In addition, as we all know identity theft is a big problem in the United States today as a whole. Our nation’s elders are prime targets for identity thieves because they often own their own homes outright and have very good credit ratings.
Knowledge is power, so simply getting this information out into the light of day is probably the most important step toward prevention. Communicating openly with trusted family members and friends is also important. Plus, there are things that can be done from a legal perspective that can provide you with protection from elder financial abuse, and this is certainly something that you should discuss with your elder law attorney the next time you come in for a consultation.