Fraud is still out there.
Scammers continue to target seniors.
The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, a non-profit organization, conducted a survey of financial planners. In this survey they found that seniors who become victims of financial abuse lose an estimated $140,500.
The financial planners surveyed indicated that seniors who were victims of ‚Äúunfair, deceptive or abusive practices‚Äù were often scammed through misleading marketing schemes. As we have said before, there is no such thing as a free lunch. But often that is just what the scammers do is lure seniors in with a seminar where they get a free lunch. The catch is that is really a sales pitch for misleading or fraudulent investments. 73% of the advisors surveyed said they knew a senior that was invited to this type of ‚Äúfree lunch‚Äù seminar.
The financial advisors also stated that they knew of seniors getting unsolicited pitches at home through the mail, e-mail, or the phone. While these type of investment scams, reverse mortgage scams and even sweepstakes scams are prevalent, sometimes seniors are also victims of fraud committed by someone they know. Of the planners surveyed, 35 % of them reported that they knew of at least one case were an elder was the victim of financial abuse by someone they knew. And another 20% said that the perpetrator was the guardian or Power of Attorney for the senior.
And the types of fraud don‚Äôt end there either. 83% of the advisors surveyed stated that seniors have been scammed by other financial advisors. Just like the ‚Äúfree lunch‚Äù seminars, there are financial advisors out there that have offered inappropriate financial products to seniors, as well as, misrepresented or omitted information about the costs and risks of those products.
Despite the fact that these types of fraud result in big losses for seniors, only 16% actually report the abuse to authorities. Many things can deter seniors from reporting crime, if the perpetrator is a family member they may not want to press charges or they may be afraid to report them. Some seniors may be embarrassed to admit they feel for a scheme, for fear people will think they are feeble. Or, they may be experiencing cognitive impairment or dementia and don‚Äôt want to admit that either.
It is important to make sure the people you‚Äôve selected or hired to help with your finances are trustworthy. It never hurts to obtain a second opinion about any investment advice. If you think you‚Äôve been the victim of financial abuse or fraud, please report it. If you are concerned that a loved one may have been taken advantage of, encourage them to report it or make the call yourself.
You can report financial abuse to the police. You can also reach out to your County Office on Aging to find out about programs or services. To report any elder abuse concern please contact your County Adult Protective service agency.
To find your County Office on Aging phone # visit, www.njfoundationforaging.org/services.html or call 1-877-222-3737.
To find your County‚Äôs Adult Protective Service agency visit: http://www.state.nj.us/health/senior/adultpsp.shtml
or call 1-800-792-8820