Elder Investment Fraud and Financial Exploitation Survey of Experts

Authors: Investor Protection Trust/Investor Protection Institute

Year: 2012

Focus Area: elder financial abuse

Relevance: This survey shows that financial swindles targeting older Americans (including fraud perpetrated by strangers) are viewed by experts as a serious problem and that seniors need better financial education and protection.

Summary: This survey, conducted as part of the Elder Investment Fraud and Financial Exploitation (EIFFE) Program, presents the responses of several questions regarding elder fraud posed to over 750 experts in the field. The respondents include adult protective service workers, social workers, state securities regulators, financial educators, academics, and health care professionals, among others.

  • 65% of the polled experts report dealing with elderly victims of investment fraud/financial exploitation, and 75% of them said that such issues are a “very serious” problem. Moreover, 78% of the experts report that older Americans are “very vulnerable” to investment fraud/financial exploitation.
  • The top three problems identified by the survey respondents are:  1)“theft or diversion of funds or property by family members” (79%), 2) “theft or diversion of funds of property by caregivers” (49%), and 3) “financial scams perpetrated by strangers” (47%).
  • 58% of survey respondents said the seniors are “not very able” or “not able at all” to determine “the legitimacy, value, and authenticity of credentials held by their financial advisors and planners.”
  • Experts report that the “financial education, counseling, or personal finance management programs…best tailored to the unique financial needs of older Americans and their families and caregivers” are:  1) “programs delivered by local professionals, such as caregivers, adult protective services workers, law enforcement agencies, and health care professionals” (71% ), 2) “programs delivered through senior centers and other facilities catering to older Americans” (65%), and 3) “programs delivered by senior oriented national and local organizations” (55%).

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