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Elder Financial Fraud Abuse: More Common Than You Think

The retirement years should be golden years. Unfortunately, in a growing number of cases, many people are spending this time as victims of elder financial fraud abuse.

Elder financial fraud is on the rise. In 2009, MetLife Mature Market Institute released a report, Broken Trust: Elders, Family and Finances, showing that up to one million older Americans are victims of financial fraud each year. The abuse can occur anywhere – in the elderly person’s own home, in nursing homes, or other institutions. Perpetrators include family members, strangers, caregivers, even an investment advisor or financial institution.

“Elder financial abuse is becoming the crime of the 21st century,” says Denise Voigt Crawford, past president of the North American Securities Administrators Association. The group estimates that one of out every five citizens over the age of 65 has been a victim of some type of financial scam.

In the coming years, elder financial abuse may become an even bigger problem. The number of people 65 and older in the U.S. will double by 2030 to 71 million, according to federal statistics.

Elder financial fraud involves the improper use of an elderly person’s funds or assets. Signs that abuse may be occurring include unexplained large bank or ATM withdrawals by an elderly person; check signatures that appear “off”; large checks written to cash and/or negotiated by the elder’s caregiver; checks that are signed by an elder but completed by someone else; new activity in accounts that previously have been inactive; expensive gifts from an elder to a caregiver; cashing an elderly person’s checks without his or her authorization; forging an elder’s signature; or misusing or stealing an older person’s money or possessions.

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