Elder financial abuse continues to rise

Staff reports
The Chronicle Express

PENN YAN — The year may be winding down, but unfortunately, cases of elder financial exploitation are not. 

Elder financial exploitation is the illegal or improper use of an older person’s funds, property, or assets. The Federal Bureau of Investigation estimates that in 2019, elderly Americans suffered losses of over $3 billion as a result of financial fraud and abuse. Fraudsters target seniors because they typically have access to pensions, 401ks, social security payments, and checking and savings accounts. 

A woman sits with her father as she displays some of the scam mail he has received in an attempt to defraud him.

The best way to protect older Americans is to watch out for red flags and help them take important steps to safeguard their assets and identity. Caregivers should stay alert for signs of elder abuse including checks written to unusual recipients, unexplainable increases in credit card debt, and unauthorized charges on statements. Some of the most frequent elder financial exploitation scams include the Romance Scam, Tech Support Scam, Grandparent Scam, Government Impersonation Scam, and Sweepstakes/Charity/Lottery Scam.

The U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 National Population Projections indicate that by 2030 all baby boomers will be older than age 65; one in five people in the U.S.
On average, a 65-year-old man living today will live, on average, until age 84, a 65-year-old woman living today will live until 86; 25% of 65-year-olds will live past 90, and 10% of 65-year-olds will live past 95.

Eric Heieck, Bank of the Finger Lakes Assistant Vice President and NY Fraud, Security & Facilities Officer, stated, “More than likely, we all know someone who has seen the tragic results of elder fraud and abuse. As online and social media usage continues to grow amongst older Americans, it is crucial to be aware of and work to protect against fraud. If it looks, feels, or seems to be suspicious, it probably is.”

If you believe that you or someone you know may have been a victim of elder fraud, contact your local law enforcement agency. You can also file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov or 1-833-FRAUD-11.

When reporting a scam, regardless of the dollar amount, be as descriptive as possible in the complaint by including the following: dates the perpetrator had contact and the methods of communication; the name of the perpetrator and the company; phone numbers, email and mailing addresses used by the subject company; method of payment; account names and numbers, and the financial institutions to which any funds were sent.

Wayne Bank is a subsidiary of Norwood Financial Corp., Member FDIC, and is located in Honesdale, Pa.