Ran into an article today that just made me cringe. It's from Newsweek and is called The Final Indignity. The summary of the piece:
"As many as 5 million elderly people are victims of financial exploitation every year. With an enormous number of baby boomers heading for retirement, are we on the verge of an elder fraud epidemic?"
Here's the total picture:
"The nonprofit National Center on Elder Abuse estimates that there are 5 million cases of elder financial exploitation annually, with most going unreported by seniors either too embarrassed about being duped or unaware the theft is happening. With an asset-rich bubble of baby boomers heading into their golden years, advocates are preparing for what could be the perfect setup for elder fraud on a massive scale. By 2030, the number of elderly is expected to nearly double to 71.5 million people--a whopping 20 percent of the total U.S. population, according to the U.S. Administration on Aging. Many of these aging boomers have money. Currently people over 50 control 70 percent of the nation’s wealth. In their later, vulnerable years, they will be obvious targets for corrupt telemarketers, lottery scammers and worse yet, unethical relatives and friends."
The piece goes through example after example (or at least it seems like it does) of elderly victims who have been duped. Then it drops a big bomb on us -- most of the criminals go scott free:
"One of the problems for prosecutors is that elderly victims often die or lose the capacity to testify before a case gets to trial."
What can you do to protect those you love and care for:
- Here are eight signs of elder financial exploitation to watch out for
- Here's how to talk to seniors about fraud
Here are some useful elder fraud websites:
- National Center on Elder Abuse: How to report suspected fraud and find services for victims.
- National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse: Research and policy information.
- American Association of Retired Persons: Consumer tips and scam alerts.
- Institute On Aging: Elder abuse facts and risk factors.