Letters to the Editor: Protect Seniors from Financial Fraud

Every year the crimes against our elderly population appear to be getting worse and worse. The dreadful numbers have been all across the board, but a 2015 study by Truelink Financial reported that our older American’s lose $36 billion annually from elder financial abuse with no relief in sight.

With 10,000 U.S. citizens turning 65 daily, we all need keep our seniors safe from fraud. Sadly, our senior population is the top target for financial scam artists. The fraudsters use several methods to prey on our seniors: the mail, telephone, in person and the internet. Some of the most popular investment or securities schemes, identity theft, internet phishing, Medicare scams, legal scams and taking advantage of a joint banking account. The bad guys understand that many seniors have assets, can be easily accessible during the day and are usually willing to talk. Retirement and financial assets are tremendous attractions for thieves.

United States Sen. Susan Collins and Claire McCaskill recently put politics aside and went to battle for our senior citizens to pass the Senior $afe Act. They proved when Congress comes together in a bipartisan manner, great things can happen for our older Americans. The legislation modeled after Maine and 15 other state laws gives investment advisers, broker dealers, insurance companies and banks the tools they need to report financial exploitation and fraud. It also encourages education training so the professionals can easily recognize warning signs when a senior is being victimized through financial fraud.

There are plenty of ways for seniors to protect themselves, including:

  • Never make major decisions after the death of a spouse or disaster.
  • Review all statements consistently.
  • Never be alone at the point of sale.
  • Sleep on every decision.
  • Check out the sales person and the product for registration, licensing, fraud or suitability.

As our population continues to age, the collaboration shown by regulatory agencies, law enforcement and industry will pay off for our elders down the road. The financial industry knows that our state regulators are tough but fair and have no tolerance for those lying, cheating and stealing. Our financial pros who do the right thing every day and look after our seniors have no tolerance for wrongdoing either.

Conwell Hooper, Executive Director
American Senior Alliance



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