Senior Financial Fraud On the Rise, SEC Calls for Federal Action

Financial fraud is increasingly targeting older Americans, with investment values remaining low and the economic downturn having dire effects. It is a rising concern that SEC Commissioner Luis Aguilar raised last week at a retirement summit.

Older Americans are more vulnerable now than they have ever been, in light of the economy, a representative for Commissioner Aguilar told attendees of the American Retirement Summit last week.

Citing a personal story shared by actor Mickey Rooney of alleged investment exploitation, the representative noted the increasing instance of financial fraud targeting older individuals.

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“We all know that Mickey Rooney’s story of exploitation is one many investors experience,” he said. “Commissioner Aguilar is growing increasingly concerned about issues arising from financial exploitation of the elderly. It is clearly on the rise. It has been estimated that at least one in five Americans over the age of 65 – that’s 7.3 million seniors – has been victimized by financial fraud. It is the responsibility of regulators to represent the vulnerable by writing and enforcing rules that reduce the opportunity for fraud to take place.”

Some of the factors influencing the trend: market volatility, plummeting values of retirement assets, high unemployment and job loss, a shift away from employer-based retirement plans, a greater percentage of seniors and cognitive declines.

“Even with the Dow looking a bit more positive these days, a retirement crisis still looms on the horizon,” he said. “Moreover, this retirement crisis is taking on a new urgency for reasons that are not receiving the attention they require.”

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The SEC urged attention to the issue not only on the state level, but on the federal level as well.

Written by Elizabeth Ecker

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