Will New Consumer Finance Agency Protect Seniors Living at Home Alone From Scams?

Will a Consumer Protection Finance Agency provide greater protection for seniors that could be victims of fraud?  Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are in conference to help reduce the odds of that happening this week.  According to a recent survey, more than 7.3 million older Americans – one out of every five citizens over the age of 65 – already have been victimized by a financial swindle, according to a major new Investor Protection Trust (IPT) survey conducted by Infogroup/ORC.  Some of the key findings in the survey include:

  • Half of older Americans exhibit one or more of the warning signs of current financial victimization. For example, more than one out three seniors (37 percent) are currently being pitched by "people (who) are calling me or mailing me asking for money, lotteries, and other schemes," while a much lower 19 percent of adult children believe that their parents are being pressured in such a fashion.
  • Almost half of those aged 65 or over (44 percent) got at least two out of four questions wrong about basic investment knowledge.
  • About one out of three older Americans (31 percent) says they are vulnerable in one or more ways to potential financial victimization.

  • Only 5 percent of adult children in touch with their parents’ doctors report "the healthcare providers ever mention[ing] any concerns about your parents handling of money or relayed any concern from your parent about handling money." However, of that same group, nearly one in five (19 percent) report the health care provider has mentioned concerns about "your parents’ mental comprehension." Only 2 percent of Americans aged 65 or older say that their healthcare provider has ever asked about "how you are handling money issues or problems."

IPT President and CEO Don Blandin said: "We now know that a shockingly large number of older Americans are already victims of financial swindles and millions more are in danger of being exploited in such a fashion. Given that front-line medical professionals who deal everyday with older Americans are ideally positioned to spot the impaired mental capacity that can leave seniors vulnerable to financial abuse, our new program seeks to inform doctors, nurses and others about the warning signs of elder investment fraud and financial exploitation. Our goal is to improve the communication among medical professionals, older Americans, adult children and state securities regulators in order to head off financial swindles before the damage is done."


Visit the IPT Investor Fraud Survey