Elder financial fraud is $36 billion and growing

Wealth


Fraud is becoming a bigger threat to your retirement security — even if you think you’re too sharp to fall for a scam.

One 2015 report estimated that older Americans lose $36.5 billion each year to financial scams and abuse. The problem is growing, and researchers say older adults experiencing cognitive decline are just a segment of the victims.

Three in 10 state securities regulators say they have seen an uptick over the past year in cases and complaints involving senior financial fraud and exploitation, according to a new survey from the North American Securities Administrators Association. Only 3 percent reported a decline.

Thieves are following the money, said the association’s president, Mike Rothman.

“This population that’s retiring is one of the wealthiest, if not the wealthiest generation, in terms of their retirement savings,” said Rothman, who is also the Minnesota commissioner of commerce. “Criminals know this as well.”

It doesn’t help that seniors can also be more vulnerable.

“It’s easier to try to exploit a senior citizen with cognitive or other impairments in financial issues, who are alone, than it is to rob a bank,” Rothman said. “So they are the targets.”



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