According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, "Elder financial exploitation is one of the most common and devastating forms of elder abuse. It can destroy the financial security of an older adult at a vulnerable stage of life. Financial exploitation can negatively impact physical and emotional health, or shorten an older person’s lifespan."
Elder financial or material exploitation is defined as the illegal or improper use of an elder's funds, property, or assets. Examples include, but are not limited to, cashing an elderly person's checks without authorization or permission; forging an older person's signature; misusing or stealing an older person's money or possessions; coercing or deceiving an older person into signing any document (e.g., contracts or will); and the improper use of conservatorship, guardianship, or power of attorney.
Studies suggest that between 3 and 5 million seniors fall victim to financial abuse, costing them approximately $36 billion each year. In CCUA’s national survey conducted in 2017, data showed more than two-thirds of familial caretakers reporting that their elderly relatives were once a target of a fraud or scam, with 28% of the elderly actually being the victim of a scam. According to National Adult Protective Services, one out of nine seniors experiences financial exploitation but only one in 44 will ever report it. Individuals who have been targeted may not even be aware of it, and those who are suspicious of fraud may not report because they are too embarrassed, ashamed, or simply unaware of how to handle the situation.
Fortunately, there are many organizations out there (including HRCU!) who want to help prevent these issues. Please take a look at some of the resources available below and be sure to keep your eyes open for future seminars at HRCU regarding Elder Financial Abuse.