A growing national problem: financial scamming of the elderly

Are elderly people with symptoms of cognitive degeneration more susceptible of being fraudulently scammed than are younger people not exhibiting any signs of mental impairment?

Of course they are, with that demographic becoming progressively more vulnerable to con artists and disingenuous ruses aimed at stealing their money.

As noted in a recent report in the media publication Neurology Now, “Financial exploitation of older Americans is one of the fastest growing forms of elder abuse as the nation shifts toward an older society.”

That reality begs this question: Just how widespread is the problem?

One estimate posits that financial scams targeting elderly Americans could be putting as much as $35 billion annually into the pockets of thieves.

That shocking figure obviously commands attention, along with purposeful national action to combat such a staggering level of fraud. Federal regulators have stepped forward with rules and guidelines that address the exploitation of seniors, and some banks are allowing for more third-party scrutiny of select accounts that allows for monitoring of questionable transactions.

At a more immediate level, concerned family members can take action aimed at protecting parents and other loved ones from the predatory behaviors of criminals seeking to financially exploit them. The above-cited article notes a number of steps that can help safeguard against fraud.

One of those is establishing a durable power of attorney, which enables a trusted third party to act in a financial capacity on behalf of a person who becomes incapacitated.

Concerned family members might reasonably want to discuss elder-related concerns with a proven estate administration attorney well versed in elder law matters. There are many steps that an experienced estate planning lawyer can recommend and help implement to protect an older person against exploitation and promote his or her best financial interests.

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