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Spotting the signs: How to prevent elder financial abuse

Saturday, June 15 is World Elder Abuse Day. Here's some advice and how to spot elder abuse scams.

Every year, approximately 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 60 reports experiencing some form of abuse. Shockingly, in 2023, over 101,000 reports of elder financial abuse flooded the FBI, shedding light on a distressing reality: abuse can strike anywhere, by anyone, often concealed by fear. The financial consequences are staggering, with victims facing losses estimated at over $36 billion annually.

Recognizing signs of elder abuse is vital, from unusual financial transactions to shifts in behavior. When safeguarding your loved ones, it's essential to stay vigilant against common scams:

Investment scams

With losses exceeding $1.2 billion in 2023, investment scams rank among the most financially devastating. Victims are lured in by false emails prompting them to update their investment accounts, only to fall prey to scammers who hijack their information for personal gain.

Tech scams

Particularly targeting those aged 60 and older, tech scams, including customer report scams, pose a significant threat. Perpetrators pose as reputable tech companies to gain access to victims' computers, installing malicious programs to steal sensitive information.

Data breaches

In 2023, over four million seniors saw their information compromised, highlighting the prevalence of data breaches. Such breaches expose personal data like social security and account numbers, with seniors being prime targets for financial exploitation.

Romance scams

Exploiting vulnerability, romance scammers build false relationships to manipulate victims into sending money. Victims, often isolated or lonely, fall prey to emotional manipulation, unaware of the deception until it's too late.

Nonpayment scams

Totaling over $250 million in losses in 2023, nonpayment scams are a common threat, especially during the holiday season. From misleading social media ads to deceitful sellers, victims are left empty-handed, having lost both money and trust.

The issue of elder financial abuse demands urgent attention. By raising awareness and intervening proactively, we can protect our elderly population from exploitation, ensuring their dignity and financial security.

Rachel Caballero is the community development and PR manager at TruWest Credit Union.