Survey: Family Members, Caregivers and Swindlers are Top Financial Exploiters of Older Americans
Over Half of Experts Say Seniors Do Not Have Right Resources to Pick Financial Advisors; Most Effective Ways to Stop Victimization Seen as Face-to-Face Education and Help.
Investment fraud and financial exploitation targeting older Americans is a major problem today and most seniors do not have the information they need to pick a financial advisor to help them protect their savings, according to a major new survey of 756 experts conducted by the Investor Protection Trust (IPT) and Investor Protection Institute (IPI) in response to questions posed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
The online poll of a diverse group of state securities regulators, financial planners, health care professionals, social workers, adult protective services, law enforcement officials, elder law attorneys, academics and others found that about two thirds (65 percent) of those surveyed deal with elderly victims of investment fraud/financial exploitation. Three out of four experts said that such swindles are a “very serious” problem in America today and an even greater number – 78 percent – said older Americans are “very vulnerable” to investment fraud/financial exploitation.
- Most common abuses? The top three financial exploitation problems identified by the experts are: (1) “theft or diversion of funds or property by family members” (79 percent); (2) “theft or diversion of funds or property by caregivers” (49 percent); and (3) “financial scams perpetrated by strangers” (47 percent).
- What works? As for the “financial education, counseling, or personal finance management programs …best tailored to the unique financial needs of older Americans and their families or caregivers,” the experts identified the following: (1) “programs delivered by local professionals, such as caregivers, adult protective services workers, law enforcement agencies, and health care professionals” (71 percent); (2) “programs delivered through senior centers and other facilities catering to older Americans” (65 percent); and (3) “programs delivered by senior oriented national and local organizations” (55 percent).
- Do seniors have the right information? Over half (53 percent) said that “the available resources for seniors when selecting a financial advisor with appropriate knowledge to address their specific financial needs” are either not very effective or not effective at all. Under a third (30 percent) said the resources are somewhat effective or very effective.