Senior financial exploitation is epidemic (just ask the CDC).
Often seniors make the perfect targets for scammers: they may have large savings accounts, valuable collectibles or heirlooms, limited mobility or cognitive impairment, and they may be socially isolated from family and friends.
But increased vulnerability isn’t the only thing keeping senior financial abuse a growing crime. It can also be a very difficult crime to catch. Many senior exploiters likely never pay for what they’ve done to others because no one ever notices the abuse–or they notice far too late.
Social isolation and lack of regular communication and involvement with older family members is partially to blame.
For the rest, senior victims often build a wall of silence between their abuse and their loved ones. Like victims of any abuse at any age, seniors often hide their abuse from others, fearing shame, embarrassment, becoming a burden to their loved ones, or ultimately losing their independence.
In some cases, a victim might even question her own cognitive abilities, feeling as though the entire mess was her fault.
But it isn’t. Senior financial abuse is never the fault of the victim, no matter what the circumstances may be. Nobody is in the right when taking advantage of someone, and the fastest way to make the abuse stop is to tell someone you trust.
This may seem like sound and commonsense advice, but to a victim of elder financial abuse, these can be the hardest words in the world to absorb.
So it’s up to those around seniors to go the extra mile to protect their loved ones from these horrendous abuses. When you can’t necessarily rely on your older friends and family members to speak up about what’s happening to them, YOU need to stay involved with them and know what the warning signs of financial abuse are so you can take action.
Below are a few helpful videos detailing the warning signs of financial abuse. They discuss things family members, financial advisors and trustees, and caretakers may see that should be treated with concern.
Know the signs, trust your gut, and be prepared to investigate if you feel something doesn’t add up.