Elder abuse can take many forms, and one of the most common types of this pernicious phenomenon is financial exploitation. Senior citizens are at increased risk to theft, scams and manipulation, all with the goal of attaining their money or assets in a deceptive manner.
The elderly are targeted by financial predators precisely because they are more vulnerable than the general population - whether from loneliness, states of confusion brought on by conditions like dementia, or simple physical incapacitation.
Financial elder abuse can range from an act as simple as taking cash from a victim's purse or wallet to engaging in a long-running telemarketing scam, with many variations in between. Here are some of the most common forms of exploitation that senior citizens are subject to:
- Identity Theft: Stealing from a victim by accessing personal information (Social Security Number, driver's license, credit cards, telephone number).
- Telemarketing Fraud: Fake prize offers, travel packages, bogus charities, "boiler room" investment scams.
- Investment Fraud: "Retirement specialists" will offer senior citizens free lunches at their investment seminars, where they will pitch low-risk, high return investment vehicles, many of which regularly turn out to be Ponzi schemes.
- Home Improvement Scams: Door-to-door offers to make repairs on houses - victims are overcharged for shoddy work or even robbed.
- "Estate Planning:" Fraudsters can use estate planning as a cover for hijacking a victim's bank accounts and property through Power of Attorney. Oftentimes a party within estate proceedings can exercise undue influence on the elderly to alter their wills or trusts.
Due to the fact they are specifically preyed upon by con artists from multiple angles, senior citizens and responsible caretakers must recognize these dangers. It's best to avoid solicitation, work with established, verified businesses and always check out referrals.