When you are engaged in the legal specialty of estate planning all of the issues that fall under the umbrella of elder law are relevant. This is a very interesting era in our society when it comes to age demographics, because the surprising fact is that the oldest Americans are the most rapidly growing segment of the population. For this reason we must stay vigilant and keep a close eye on any and all trends that are impacting the senior population. With this in mind, one very alarming phenomenon that is seriously impacting the senior community is that of elder financial abuse.
A 2009 MetLife Mature Market Institute study indicates that a minimum of $2.6 billion per year is lost due to cases of elder financial abuse. This is a very speculative assessment because only around 4% of the total instances of this abuse are reported to authorities. The primary reasons why those who fall prey to elder financial abuse almost always keep their victimization to themselves is because they want to protect the perpetrators. In most cases, the individual who is responsible for the abuse is a family member, and other common abusers are caregivers, advisers, and “friends.”
Aside from the cases when a senior citizen is financially abused by someone that he or she knows personally, elders are often times veritable sitting ducks for con artists and scammers of every ilk. Common traps include home improvement scams, get-rich-quick schemes, pyramid deals, bogus short term loans, mortgage fraud, and identity theft. Seniors often have very high credit ratings, and it is not uncommon for them to own their own homes outright, and the identity of a homeowner with spotless credit is a dream come true for a savvy identity thief.
There is no denying the fact that elder financial abuse is a looming danger, and the best course of action is to schedule an appointment with an elder law specialist who can help you take legal steps to combat this growing plague.