Protecting the Elderly from Fraud

Nov. 2nd, 2011   /  

When something mischievous is easy, people say it’s “like stealing candy from a baby.” In South Florida, it may be more appropriate to say it’s “like stealing money from a senior citizen.”

Financial scams targeting the elderly in Florida is on the rise – and the economic slump in which we find ourselves is a breeding ground for such fraudulence. There are over 3 million senior citizens in Florida, and over 600,000 of them have been the victims of monetary swindling. 600,000. That’s about the population of Vermont!  Imagine if an entire state were to be the victim of a malicious financial scheme. That would make headlines, not just law blogs.

These types of scams come in all flavors. They can come in the form of crooked financial “advising,” they can be the product of telemarketers pushing dubious products or investments, and they can come in the form of ill-natured “mistakes” on bills.  Old folks can be frail and many live alone without any source of support or advice. It would seem that a life of real-world experience would lead to a cynical and doubt-filled twilight, but truth be told, many of these seniors leap (okay, stand slowly) at the opportunity to be engaged in “business” with some savvy, smooth-talking youngster.  Seniors especially fall for the countless television ads which offer products you don’t need at a price you can’t afford – BUT they say you can make the payments over time, and that’s where the seniors get trapped.

Bernie Madoff is the poster-child for financial scams this decade, but much worse happens that isn’t reported on 60 Minutes. One man in South Florida was charged $120,000 by an appliance company for the replacement of an air conditioning unit. Unfortunately, while this story is certainly gut-wrenching, it isn’t an anomaly. 

Seniors are predated because of their brittle demeanor but also because of what they’ve got in the bank. While not all seniors are wealthy, according to the Investor Protection Trust, they do hold 70% of the wealth in the U.S. It’s surprising that the protesters haven’t initiated an “Occupy Retirement Homes” campaign.

So, what can be done to stop the reprehensible financial abuse of seniors that can only be characterized as evil? Well, something can’t be rectified if nobody knows about it. And that is often times the problem: most seniors don’t know they’re being duped. People have to be more vigilant; and that direction isn’t aimed at seniors, it’s aimed at those who have the duty to respect and protect those who raised us.

Help is on the way.  On November 10th, a group of family counselors, doctors, and 150 financial planners will be standing by to take questions and offer advice.  The offer stands from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.  For general finance questions, people can call 888-227-1776, for questions about financial abuse, people can call 888-303-3279, and for questions about impairments that may affect financial decisions, people can call 888-303-0430.

Take advantage of the free advice offered by knowledgeable professionals before scam artists take advantage of the elderly.

If you have further questions and feel that you have been the victim of such a heinous crime, or you know someone who has, please contact the Law Offices of Aronberg and Aronberg at 561-266-9191 or email us at daronberg@aronberglaw.com.

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