Often, it’s family members taking advantage of the elderly and their finances
It’s “eyes wide open” when it comes to elder financial fraud. While we may think that those who prey upon the elderly are professional criminals scheming ways to take advantage of people, the sad truth is that often, it’s a family member doing the scheming. A recent study by Merrill Lynch estimated that 70 percent of all elder financial fraud cases involved relatives.
Of course, most family members actively protect their loved ones, but anyone caring for the elderly needs to be aware of the possibilities. Elder fraud perpetrated by family members shows itself in subtle ways, such as changes in whom the senior individual considers a core influencer or decision maker, as well as changes in the senior’s wishes for gifting or investing.
How can families prevent elder fraud?
It is important for families to share in the monitoring of their loved one’s finances and not wind up in a situation where one family member (or family unit) is solely responsible for all financial decisions without input. Periodic family meetings can open a dialogue of open and honest and questions regarding a senior loved one’s financial situation.
By creating a small network of trusted individuals to monitor his or her financial status, an elderly individual can prevent becoming a victim of financial fraud, whether by outsiders or family members. A few different influencers looking out for the senior’s best interests greatly reduce the odds of victimization.
Curbing senior investment fraud
When it comes to monitoring elder finances and detecting elder financial abuse, financial advisors and brokers are on the front lines. That’s why the SEC acted in February 2017 to help financial institutions identify when an elderly or vulnerable client may be at risk. The SEC now requires that brokerage firms make reasonable effort to identify a “trusted contact person” on an elderly or vulnerable investor’s account. This named trusted contact (typically a friend or family member) can then be contacted by the broker if there is any suspicious activity on the client’s account, or to confirm the client’s health status or mental capacity.
While it is advisable to enlist the services of a professional providing financial advice for the elderly, it is critical to choose the right person for the job. It is a sad fact, but in many cases, the person committing the financial abuse against a senior is a broker or advisor whom the victim considers trustworthy. In these cases, elderly victims of abuse or exploitation have rights. If you think you have been defrauded by a broker, financial advisor, or financial institution, or want to know your rights as an investor, contact our firm.
The attorneys of Silver Law Group are leaders in the field of FINRA and securities arbitration. We represent individual and institutional investors across the United States who have lost money at the hands of a trusted financial advisor. Our services are provided on a contingency-fee basis, which means we are only compensated if there is a recovery of losses. For more information, contact us for a complimentary consultation.