Financial abuse of seniors is estimated to rob elderly Americans of billions of dollars each year. A study by AIG Life & Retirement says 47% of seniors age 65 and older still manage their own finances. Other research shows as we get older, our financial literacy declines.
There are many examples of elder financial abuse, including at the hands of trusted family members. However, scams targeting seniors over the phone or through the internet by others trying to manipulate them into sending money are growing.
Most common financial scams
A group of seniors took part in the AIG study to determine their knowledge of some of the most common schemes. The results were alarming:
- Pigeon drop: 60% were not aware of this scam, where the senior is told that a significant amount of cash has been found and will be shared once they make an upfront payment.
- Romance: 57% have not heard of online dating scams where they are asked for money by someone pretending to be romantically interested in them.
- Invoice: 57% did not know of this deception, where scammers pretend to work for legitimate companies such as a utility.
- Pre-paid cards: 52% were unaware of scammers posing as company representatives and asking them to send pre-paid credit or debit cards.
Seniors can take steps to protect themselves
While 10% of those surveyed had not heard of any of the top 10 financial scams, many seniors are working to safeguard their personal information and wealth by:
- Not responding to emails, texts or phone calls asking for personal information
- Ignoring email links from unknown senders
- Examining their credit reports
- Setting up alerts with their banks and credit card companies
- Providing personal information over the phone only if they initiated the call
Report financial abuse and other threats to seniors
Many older Americans are vulnerable to scammers who seek to take their hard-earned wealth. Some seniors are more susceptible to fraud due to diminished physical and mental capabilities. If you or a loved one has been targeted, an experienced elder law attorney in Connecticut can protect your rights and help you take advantage of special laws that protect seniors from financial abuse.