Elder Financial Abuse is on the Rise

By Lori Elliott, Retail Market Leader at First Merchants Bank

A recent study revealed that more than a million older Americans lose $2.6 billion annually to financial abuse. The abuse comes from strangers, caregivers and even family members. In fact, AARP reports that about sixty percent of Adult Protective Services cases of financial abuse involve a family member.

As seniors become more comfortable with internet, they become more exposed to internet fraud. Telemarketing scams, too, have been hurting our seniors with false offers involving medical care, investments, and sweepstakes. Seniors age 60 and older account for 49% of these victims.

There are several signs that your loved one may be a victim of elder financial abuse. Unusual activity in an older person’s bank accounts, new “best friends” that accompany the older person to the bank, disappearance of valuable objects around the house, and sudden unpaid bills are just a few.

If you encounter any of these signs, talk to your loved one to prevent any further exploitation. The earlier you can detect financial abuse, the sooner you can put a stop to it and keep them from losing more.

The Federal Trade commission has an educational campaign, “Pass It On” that helps older adults avoid common scams.

The Department of Justice has a website for enhancing public awareness about elder abuse. Visit the elder justice website for more information.

Being aware and watchful for elderly financial abuse is very important for you, your elderly loved ones and society as a whole. The more alert we are to suspicious activity, the more equipped we’ll be to put a stop to it.