Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Thrifty Thinking: Scamming Seniors: Financial Abuse of the Elderly on the Rise

The financial abuse of senior citizens costs the United States more than $36 billion every year. New research shows that changes in the brains of senior citizens can actually make them more susceptible to this type of criminal activity. These changes included a diminished capacity to read social cues and accurately judge risk.
Nicole Mayer, AIF, CDFA, RFC and Partner at RPG-Life Transition Specialists says, “Important issues such as elderly neglect and abuse in nursing homes are well-known, but we also need to shine a light on the rampant and devastating financial abuse of senior citizens. A person’s entire savings can be virtually wiped out by an opportunistic criminal, leaving these elderly victims penniless after a lifetime of hard work and saving.”
Here, Mayer identifies some of the common scams of which senior citizens should be aware:
  1. The IRS Scam. “As identified by this recent study, many seniors have a reduced ability to judge a person’s intentions and behavior. Hence, when they receive a call from a ‘government official’ who tells them that they owe the U.S. Government money and they must pay immediately before their home is taken away or even their children’s homes are taken away, they panic. They reach for their financial records and start rattling off personal information, or even simply read off their credit card number over the phone.”
  2. The Health Care Scam. “As above, someone contacts an elderly individual letting them know that their financial statements are in need of their attention. All they need is for the senior to hand over their social security number, and with that and a few other minor details, they can steal their identity and rack up tons of debt in their name.”
  3. Tech Support Scams. “This one is huge because many senior citizens are often uneducated about technology. Even though many elderly people do use e-mail and even Skype with their grandkids, they are still easy targets for pop-up ads and infected links which can get the senior citizen to download malware. From there, cyber hackers can easily steal their personal information.”
  4. Homeowner Reverse Mortgages. “Many senior citizens are anxious about their financial futures and whether or not they will be able to keep their homes, which make them a prime target for scammers who call up promising a reduced mortgage. The individual might even show up at their home in a suit and tie, and sweet-talk them with fancy brochures and piles of paper work. Even though the senior citizen might not sign anything on the spot, that doesn’t matter—the criminal just wants to lure them into giving out personal information, which a trusting senior citizen with these aforementioned brain changes might be more likely to do than an average person.”
  5. Investment scams. “The decreased ability not to be able to read social cues could put seniors at huge risk of con-men. These victims might be lonely or distanced from their family, making it easy for a gregarious criminal to charm them and trick them into handing them a personal check.”
Mayer says that the additional issue with senior citizen scams is that the victims often don’t want to admit they have been duped. “Sadly, these seniors are often ashamed to admit that they have been tricked. On the one hand, it is embarrassing to them, and on the other hand, they are also worried if they admit to being victimized, that their family will see them as incapable and try to pressure them into a nursing facility. This means that the senior citizens often don’t speak up until it is much too late and the damage cannot be undone.”
Mayer urges family members to talk to their elderly loved ones about these risks and to make sure they know that financial abuse is not their fault. She also says, “Senior citizens are most commonly victimized by people they know and trust. So rather than allowing one relative to manage all of the senior’s finances, you should rely on a trusted financial institution and wealth investment advisor. An unbiased, expert opinion is invaluable when it comes to protecting your loved one’s finances. They worked hard for their entire lives to save this money, and it’s crucial to help them protect it.”
For more on this topic or to speak to Nicole Mayer, please contact me.
About RPG – Life Transition Specialists Located in Riverwoods, Illinois, RPG is a financial planning firm committed to tailoring the retirement process for each individual client and providing financial education programs for corporations.  With a 95% client retention rate over the course of 16 years, the experienced staff of financial professionals takes time to counsel each prospect and deliver a plan designed to meet each individual’s specific needs. They have been featured in esteem publications like the Wall Street Journal and Crain’s Chicago Business.  RPG – Life Transition Specialist is located at 2610 Lake Cook Road, Suite 250, inRiverwoods, Illinois.  They can be reached at (800) 596-0253.  Find them online at www.rpgplan.com.  Securities and advisory services offered through National Planning Corp.  (NPC), Member FINRA/SIPC.  A Registered Investment Adviser.  RPG and NPC are separate and unrelated companies.

No comments:

Post a Comment