Thursday, June 17, 2010

One in five older Americans is a victim of financial fraud

We hear about it all the time—an older adult being scammed out of their money. A survey released Tuesday as part of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day has found that one out of every five citizens over the age of 65 has already been financially taken advantage of. That’s more than 7.3 million older Americans!

A new program seeks to train medical professionals to assess when older patients might be likely to fall prey to elder investment fraud and financial exploitation. According to, this new program, a new partnership between the Investor Protection Trust (IPT), the North American Securities Administrators Association, and the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA) was based on a pilot program that brought fines and prison sentences cases of elder abuse—of note is the case of Edward S. Digges Jr. who raised at least $10 million from about 130 Texas investors, the majority of whom were elderly. reports that according to the Don Blandin, the president and chief executive of IPT, the centerpiece of the new program is the Clinician's Pocket Guide, which contains a list of questions that medical professionals can ask older patients. Doctors can get a sense of their patient's financial capacity by asking the following questions:
  • Who manages your money day to day? How is that going?
  • Do you run out of money at the end of the month?
  • Do you regret or worry about financial decisions you've recently made?
  • Have you given power of attorney to another person?
  • Do you have a will? Has anyone asked you to change it?
If the answers to those questions raise suspicion, the doctors are then urged to probe for further details by asking whether the patient is having any of the following concerns:
  • I have trouble paying bills because the bills are confusing to me.
  • I don't feel confident making big financial decisions alone.
Elders at greatest risk of being scammed are those with mild cognitive impairment who can perform most daily functions, but have trouble or become confused with others, such as following their medicine regimen or managing their finances. That will be a lot of people. According to at least one study, more than one-third of the 25 million people over age 71 in the U.S. either have Alzheimer's or mild cognitive impairment. Therefore, that would represent many potential scams.

Blog Archive