New Ways to Stop Scams of Aging Clients

Advisor Perspectives welcomes guest contributions. The views presented here do not necessarily represent those of Advisor Perspectives.

Scams, theft and fraud with seniors' money is a growing problem. But the new Senior Safe Act helps advisors prevent this ugly abuse of their older clients.

The Wall Street Journal reports that banks calculated a 12% increase in financial elder abuse just in the last year. Why do the thieves pick on grandma or grandpa so much?

Your aging clients, whether getting advice or investing with you, are targets. They hold a disproportionate amount of our country's wealth.

You can help stop them from being victimized.

Over $36 billion a year is stolen from elders in the U.S. The problem isn't getting any better. According to the WSJ, it's getting worse.

Your aging parents are easy targets for scammers for lots of reasons. Elders in this country hold a disproportionately high level of wealth compared to younger people. Some have accumulated significant assets and they may not see themselves as vulnerable at all.

Clearly, diminishing cognition makes it easy for thieves and manipulators. Cognitive decline affects at least a third of people over age 85. Your aging client may not have the awareness any longer to spot a fishy-sounding line from a seemingly trustworthy source. Widowed clients live alone and are isolated, ready to engage with that friendly sounding, cheerful voice from the clever scammer on the phone.

Thieves stay in contact with your older clients when they find them and weave a trap over time. Many aging folks are dependent on others for care, help at home and social contact. Dependency makes them vulnerable. Unscrupulous family members lead the pack of those who seize on that vulnerability and trust to rip off their elders. It's all too easy to influence a trusting aging person to give a "loan," access to an account or power of attorney to a person with ulterior motives, which essentially creates a license to steal. Eventually they all want your elderly client to give them money. That's where your awareness can stop the abuser.