Action Line: Survey highlights scams targeting elderly
BY PHIL MULKINS World Action Line Editor
Thursday, January 31, 2013
1/31/13 at 5:37 AM
Dear Action Line: I'm afraid my elderly mother is being duped into making unwise investments by someone in her assisted living center. Is anything done to protect these older people or help them recognize financial scams? - R.V.W., Tulsa.
A major new survey of 756 experts conducted by the Investor Protection Trust tulsaworld.com/IPTElderInvestFraud and Investor Protection Institute says investment fraud and financial exploitation of older Americans is a major problem and most seniors don't have information needed to pick financial advisers to help them protect their savings. The survey was suggested by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The online poll of state securities regulators, financial planners, health care professionals, social workers, adult protective services, law enforcement officials, elder law attorneys, academics and others found 65 percent of those surveyed deal with elderly victims of investment fraud and financial exploitation. Three of four said swindles are a "very serious" problem in America and 78 percent said older Americans are "very vulnerable" to investment fraud and financial exploitation.
Training & outreach: Irving Faught, Oklahoma Department of Securities administrator, said: "There are some good signs in these findings that we are on the right track in tackling financial swindles that go after older Americans. These survey results show our training and outreach programs, such as the EIFFE Prevention Program, are a good way to identify and reach victims and potential victims of elder financial abuse." Social workers, caregivers, adult protective services professionals and others are key to protecting these vulnerable individuals, he said. EIFFE is the Elder Investment Fraud & Financial Exploitation Prevention Program tulsaworld.com/EldrInvestProtec
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).
Seniors with right information: More than half (53 percent) said "the available resources for seniors when selecting a financial adviser with appropriate knowledge to address their specific financial needs are either not very effective or not effective at all. Less than a third (30 percent) said the resources are somewhat effective or very effective.
Original Print Headline: Survey highlights scams targeting elderly
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