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The Thief Who Knows You: The Cost of Elder Exploitation Examined

Knowing the growing impact of financial exploitation, AARP BankSafe set out to unpack the dynamics surrounding the issue with a close eye on the all-important question of cost — that is, the cost to victims, financial institutions, and government budgets.  This resulting report defines financial exploitation, summarizes the methodologies and findings of studies that have examined its costs, and sheds light on what we know about both the victims and perpetrators.

Analysis shows major costs and community impacts, such as:

  • A national average of $120,000 lost per victim.
  • An estimated $17,000 loss to financial institutions per case.
  • An estimated $36,000 in direct costs to caregivers due to a family member being exploited.
  • Family members steal twice as much money as strangers.
  • Older adults with cognitive challenges are the most vulnerable to exploitation and have up to twice the amount stolen.

Family members, caregivers, financial institutions, states and academics can all consider additional steps to better protect consumers and prevent exploitation. 

Learn more about how the AARP BankSafe Initiative is preventing financial exploitation and helping consumers safeguard their assets. 

Suggested citation:

Gunther, Jilenne. The Thief Who Knows You: The Cost of Elder Exploitation Examined. Washington, DC: AARP Public Policy Institute, March 2020.


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