Protecting Elders from Financial Exploitation

Did you know the United Nations designated June 15 as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day?

While the UN’s goal is to focus attention on the issue of physical, emotional or financial abuse of elders, the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA), a non-profit organization that focuses on improving the quality of services for victims of elder and vulnerable adult mistreatment, recently shared data indicating that the financial exploitation of elders has been on a steady rise over the past decade.

Financial exploitation takes many forms, with scams and frauds attempted by people both known and unknown to potential victims. One means of protecting ourselves from this type of exploitation is a heightened awareness of common scams, such as:

  • Lottery & sweepstakes scams “You’ve already won! Just send $2,500 to cover taxes”
  • Home repair/traveling con men “We’re in your area and can coat your driveway / roof really cheaply”
  • Grandparent scam: You’re called and told your grandson is in jail and needs you to send money immediately
  • Charity scams: falsely soliciting funds for good causes; very common after disasters
  • I’m from the utility company; I need you to come outside with me for a minute (while accomplice steals valuables)
  • Roof repair, yard work, home repair scams
  • Telemarketing scams and accompanying threats
  • Predatory Lending
  • Investment/securities schemes – pyramid schemes; unrealistic returns promised; dealer is not licensed
  • Internet phishing – false emails about bank accounts
  • Identity theft – credit cards opened fraudulently, etc.
  • Medicare scams – these are the costliest in terms of the dollar amounts

Resources that may be helpful to investigate or prevent financial exploitation include:

  • Tips and information on preventing on-line fraud: www.consumer.ftc.gov.
  • Information about securities fraud and on how to detect elder financial abuse: investorprotection.org.
  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, offering information and tools for protecting older adults from fraud and financial exploitation: consumerfinance.gov.