Articles Tagged with Financial Elder Abuse

With the technology available in the 21st century—along with the COVID-19 pandemic—financial exploitation and fraud are at an all-time high. In fact, the FBI has determined that elder fraud has generally increased over the past year and that elder fraud is an FBI priority. Especially for the elderly, their diminished interaction with others during the pandemic makes it less likely to notice behavior that puts them at higher risk for exploitation. Despite this alarming news, the creation of a Texas estate plan can help reduce elder fraud and financial exploitation.

How to Prevent Financial Exploitation

Financial exploitation is fraudulent action committed by a caregiver, fiduciary, or other individuals where they use the resources of an older person for their own personal gain. This often includes depriving the elder of their money, assets, and other belongings. Common examples of elder exploitation include theft of money by a caregiver or family member, a power of attorney improperly acting on behalf of the elder, and investment scams selling unnecessary financial services and products.

MP900442456Caution is urged when considering a reverse mortgage as a solution to financial problems during retirement years. Television commercials targeting seniors leave out most of the unpleasant parts of a reverse mortgage.  Rates and fees are extremely high and the homeowner is still responsible to pay property taxes, insurance and upkeep. It’s important to understand the positive and negatives before signing on the dotted line.

The Better Business Bureau receives a lot of complaints about reverse mortgages. As these complaints show, there are problems and issues with reverse mortgages, and they also illustrate that more than a few consumers are confused when they sign up.

A recent article in The (Appleton WI) Post Crescent, titled “Be cautious before taking on reverse mortgage,” says that some consumers don't know that a reverse mortgage is a loan that leverages their home’s equity. It's actually one of the most expensive forms of credit a person can get, with its origination fees, interest charges, and insurance premiums topping those of most other types of loans. Typically, a reverse mortgage origination fee can be up to $6,000 and the initial premium for federal insurance is set at 2% of the home’s value.

MP900202201How big a problem is impossible to say, because hard data is scarce. “The reality is that we don’t even have national data on the scope of the problem,” Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), said at the hearing.

It has been found that much of the financial abuse involving seniors goes unreported. According to a New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study, only one in 44 cases is reported. And knowing that makes for a real problem when reviewing some of the data we do have.

It’s a problem that Kathleen Quinn, Executive Director of the National Adult Protective Services Association, called “rampant, largely invisible, expensive and lethal” at a recent Senate Special Committee on Aging hearing on the subject. In fact, as reported in a recent Forbes article titled “Why Elder Financial Abuse Is Such A Slippery Crime,” a new study asserts that financial elder abuse costs $36.5 billion annually—more than 12 times the figures that MetLife has published in the past few years.

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