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Elder Financial Abuse Claims Billions From Victims

Elder financial abuse is a rarely talked epidemic that claims billions of dollars each year from its victims.  No one is immune from becoming a victim of elder financial abuse. Recent high-profile cases include those of actor Mickey Rooney and philanthropist Brooke Astor.

As the American population ages, the extent of elder abuse is only likely to grow, says the National Center on Elder Abuse. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, individuals 65 years of age and older represented about 13% of the population in 2008 and will make up nearly 20% by 2030.

Examples of elder financial exploitation include cashing an older adult’s checks without his or her authorization; forging an older adult’s signature; and misusing or stealing an older adult’s money and/or possessions.

No one knows exactly how many older Americans suffer financial abuse – largely because the crimes often go unreported. Research shows that for every one case of elder abuse, neglect, exploitation, or self-neglect reported to authorities, about eight more go unreported.

A recent study by MetLife shows that financial abuse of elderly Americans has risen 12% since 2008. According to the study, 51% of all instances of financial abuse of the elderly are crimes committed by strangers. Approximately 34% come from family, friends or acquaintances. Crimes classified as “scams” committed by strangers accounted for 28% of all financial abuses, business-related exploits made up 12%, and Medicare and Medicaid fraud accounted for 4% of cases.

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