Elder Financial Fraud: A Growing Concern in Virginia

         The elder generation, meaning those over 60, has experienced some difficulties navigating the current financial marketplace. These problems have arisen due to the fact that new financial tools are confusing for those who are not adept at using technology.  This situation has allowed bad actors to financially victimize elderly people.

Financial Tools

The current financial landscape is more complicated than in previous generations. Financial management tools like online banking, adjustable rate mortgages, payday loans, etc. were not part of the elder generation’s financial education. This bevy of new financial options mixed with elder people’s confusion about these options has been a helping hand for those who look to take advantage of the elderly.  

Financial abuse of older people is a growing concern.

Age

            The fact that Americans are living longer has also played a key role in the uptick of financial fraud affecting the elderly. People in their elder years are much more vulnerable to declines in cognition, which leads to poor financial decision making. Living longer also puts more stress on an elderly person’s savings, so retired people could be in a more desperate position than those who are still working, which can lead to risky financial decision making.

Evidence

The Wall Street Journal conducted a study of 1,260 people over the age of 50 and found that almost 8% of the group had fallen victim to at least one fraudulent financial activity. Not only that, but nearly one-third of the participants had been exposed to financial scams in the past five years.

What is Being Done

            Financial institutions have an important role in determining whether or not financial victimization of the elderly continues to increase. These institutions are providing more protections and education programs to their elderly customers. The legislature has also helped curb this growing issue by passing legislation requiring harsher penalties on those who exploit the elderly.

What You Can Do

            Whether you are concerned for yourself or an elderly loved one, there are things you can do to prevent elder exploitation. The Senate’s Special Committee on Aging has a fraud hotline at 1-855-303-9470 that offers steps for consumers to take to avoid fraud. Also, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau takes complaints about financial fraud. A good estate lawyer can also help elderly people avoid financial exploitation by creating strong retirement and asset protection plans. The lawyers at Smith Strong specialize in creating these sorts of financial plans and would gladly take the opportunity to help you or a loved one. You may also attend Van’s free estate planning workshop, (see the Info tab on our website). Please call (804) 325-1245 or (757) 941-4298 to sign up for the workshop, or to schedule your first meeting.

 

Editorial Assistance By: Michael Gee - Law Clerk

H. Van Smith
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