We know that many older Americans are being financially abused and duped out of their savings. A new survey of caregivers finds that the problem may be far worse than suspected.
Thirty-seven percent of active caregivers say that the person in their care has been exploited or financially abused, nearly double the percentage from just two years ago, according to a survey of 1,000 people by Allianz Life Insurance Co. of North America. And 4 out of 10 people who are currently caregiving — or will be soon — report that the fraud isn't a one-time thing.
Victims on average lost $36,000, or 20 percent more than when Allianz conducted a similar survey two years ago. But fraud also cost caregivers an average of $36,000, with 9 out of 10 of them stepping in to compensate victims for their losses.
"It's clear that elder financial abuse is becoming more commonplace, and unfortunately it also appears to be greater than we thought in both scope and impact," said Walter White, Allianz Life's president and CEO, in a statement.
White adds that the government, the public and the financial services industry need to join forces to raise awareness and reverse this trend.
See also: AARP's Fraud Watch Network
To that end, AARP launched BankSafe, an initiative aimed at empowering caregivers and preventing financial exploitation, particularly among those with dementia. The Allianz study, for instance, found that people with dementia are at greater risk of being exploited and suffer bigger financial losses.
How do to protect yourself or your loved one? Allianz says:
- Don't sign complex agreements without consulting with a lawyer or financial professional.
- Establish relationships with trustworthy professionals who can assist with monitoring your finances for suspicious activity.
- And when in doubt about turning over your money to someone, don't be afraid to say 'No.'