According to a study by MetLife, The MetLife Study of Elder Financial Abuse,the elderly lose $2.9 billion dollars a year due to financial exploitation. This blog post will explore some of the factors that make some elderly individuals susceptible to financial exploitation.
Physical dependence – Individuals who have to regularly rely on others for physical assistance can often fall victim to exploitation either through outright theft or more indirect fraud, such as forcing individuals to sign documents that favor the caregiver. Individuals and families should exercise extreme caution when selecting caregivers and care facilities. Don’t be afraid to ask for references and consult with reputable experts before making a decision on care givers or care facilities. An individual caregiver who is willing to work for cheap may seem like a godsend, but may come with added risk for exploitation.
Mental decline – An individual who is experiencing mental decline can become more vulnerable to exploitation by others. Scams that may seems obvious to people with normal mental capacity suddenly become plausible to people with diminished capacity. Even once highly intelligent people can fall victim to scams if they stubbornly refuse to acknowledge their decline. Scam artists can appeal to a person’s vanity by making it seem like a transaction or scheme is the smart thing to do.
Isolation – Sheer isolation can also make the elderly susceptible to exploitation. If a person is generally cut off from friends and family, then exploiters can often get in position to take advantage of someone’s loneliness. Sudden new friends who make themselves available to elderly individuals may look to take advantage of a person by getting the potential victim to place them in a position of authority over a person’s affairs. People engaged in exploitation will often try to cut off victims from their friends and family in order to gain greater control over their victims. It is important for a person’s family and long-time friends to regularly maintain relationships with elderly individuals to prevent them from becoming isolated.
General susceptibility to salespeople – If a person has trouble saying no to or cutting off salespeople, then they may be more susceptible to schemes that prey on the elderly. Schemers who target the elderly can sometimes succeed just by wearing down the resistance of the victim, either through an extended phone call or door-to-door sales visit. Other pitfalls to watch out for are invitations to seminars or free meals where individuals could be pressured into making ill-advised transactions.