Older Americans can be at serious risk for financial exploitation. According to a recent study, elderly adults in the U.S. get scammed out of $3 billion to $37 billion annually. Reportedly, those losses are even higher if the perpetrator is a family friend or relative.
The Department of Justice recently embarked on a thorough crackdown on elder financial abuse, as 200 offenders got convicted of defrauding more than 2 million senior citizens in 2019. Despite this recent victory, many cases still go unreported. According to the National Adult Protective Services Association, only 1 in 44 cases of elder financial abuse receive attention from authorities.
Luckily, there are ways people can protect themselves from such mistreatment before it starts.
Steps the elderly can take
Here’s how older adults can protect their financial assets:
- Assign power of attorney: Nearly half of seniors age 65 and older oversee their finances. Unfortunately, this can make them more vulnerable to theft. That’s why older adults may want to have someone else look after their money. They can do this by giving a trusted loved power of attorney. That way, another person can keep a close eye on their finances to make sure they’re not getting scammed.
- Watch for warning signs: Unfortunately, most seniors fall victim to financial abuse by someone they know. If a nursing home staff members start to get close to them and request access to their financial accounts, this may be a cause for concern.
- Create separate accounts: If the elder adult is comfortable with it, they may want to split money into different accounts. For example, they may want to keep some cash in their checking account for bills and activities and put the rest of their money in a sperate savings account. This way, if they get caught in a scam, their savings won’t be entirely wiped out.
The consequences can be dire
No matter their level of income, financial abuse can create hardship for them and their families. That’s why the elderly must take the proper steps necessary to protect their financial assets from potential abusers.