According to a report released by MetLife Mature Market Institute (MMMI), “elder financial abuse costs older Americans more than $2.6 billion per year and is most often perpetrated by family members and caregivers.” Wow! That’s billion, with a capital “B.”

The National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA), which was a co-author of the study, suggests that “the ‘typical’ victim of financial elder abuse is between the ages of 70 and 89, white, female, frail and cognitively impaired. She is trusting of others and may be lonely or isolated, although reports show that there is a very diverse population of victims.”

Elder financial abuse has been called the “crime of the 21st century,” according to Sandra Timmermann, Ed.D., director of the MetLife Mature Market Institute. “With the present state of the economy, older Americans are at a greater risk than ever of having their financial security threatened. And, for every dollar lost to theft and abuse, there are still more related costs associated with stress and health care and the intervention of social service, investigative and legal entities.

“This is also a growing problem made greater by the increase in the number of older Americans as targets, the relative wealth of this group, a change in family structure and the availability of technology that may make such abuse somewhat easier,” said Timmermann.

As consumers, particularly seniors, face trust issues regarding their money, this is a good opportunity for you to step in and educate your clients and guide them with a steady hand.

With that in mind, arm your clients with these tips from MMMI to help educate and protect them against financial predators:

  • Monitor your financial affairs
  • Stay organized
  • Beware of telephone solicitations
  • Be careful of individuals who may take advantage of you
  • Recognize potential financial abusers

For a complete list of protection against elder financial abuse tips click here.