Springfield, IL- Financial exploitation of the elderly is the fastest growing form of elder abuse that seniors in the U.S. and Illinois face. The overwhelming majority of elder abuse complaints entail financial exploitation, but many of cases go unreported and seniors can be robbed of their life savings
Why are some seniors vulnerable to financial exploitation?
The elderly are vulnerable to financial exploitation and scams because they are unaware of their rights and have the tendency to be more trustworthy. They are less likely to report if they have been victimized by a financial scam. Scammers also assume that the elderly have significant amounts of cash at their disposal and often target seniors that are lonely, isolated and physically or mentally disabled.
Common Scams That Target the Elderly
Telemarketing or Phone Scams
The most common financial fraud seniors face is the scammer who calls posing as a telemarketer because seniors make twice as many purchases over the phone than other Americans. The perception that seniors are lonely and want someone to talk lends the prevalence of telemarketing scams. These scammers may convince an elderly person to send them money by telling them a loved one has been involved in an accident. Charity scams are also common and frequently occur when there is a natural disaster.
Funeral and Cemetery Scams
It’s unthinkable, but many seniors are preyed upon by scammers at the funeral of a loved. Some scammers approach a person at a funeral claiming that the deceased owes them money and they are attempting to collect. Deceitful funeral directors will also convince seniors to pay for funeral expenses that are unnecessary to increase their bottom line. For instance, a funeral director may tell the senior they need a vault for a loved one who has been cremated when all they really need is a cardboard or display casket.
The internet, while a valuable tool, is also a breeding ground from scam artists. There are many ways in which a scam artist can get access to all of a person’s personal information. Pop-ups try to fool people into downloading virus protection or a program that will clean up their computer for better performance. Once downloaded, scammers can access to a wealth of personal information that they can use to steal a person’s identity. Seniors are often unaware that many computers already have virus protection and firewalls that make these virus protection programs useless.
It’s a sad fact, but the majority of elder abuse is perpetrated by the senior’s family, this especially applies to financial exploitation. In some cases a child, grandchild or other family member with approach their elderly loved for money. They may say they need money because they have been in accident or need to pay their bills. Another way family member scam their elderly loved ones is to convince them to grant access to their bank accounts so they can help them with shopping or paying their bills, but what the end up doing instead is use money from the account for their personal use.
These are just a few financial scams that target the elderly, but there are many more. When a senior has been victimized by a financial scam they can contact an Illinois elder abuse attorney to determine if they can take legal action.