This is Low: More People Stealing From Elderly Members of Their Own Families

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Research conducted by the Investor Protection Trust (IPT) and Investor Protection Institution (IPI) finds that “elder exploitation” is increasing, with more people taking money and property from older Americans. Even more shocking, most of the perpetrators are family members. Caregivers and strangers are also guilty.

The organizations polled state securities regulators, law enforcement officials, financial planner, health care professionals and others who report that they’re seeing higher instances of theft from older Americans, with the study also finding that the elderly are “very vulnerable.”

Financial services company MetLife reported last year that older Americans were robbed to the tune of $2.9 billion in 2010. That’s up from $2.6 billion in 2008.

“Some older Americans are too embarrassed to disclose financial abuse. Some lack the tools to find a good financial adviser and may not have the knowledge to understand investment advice. Others may be susceptible to fraud because of diminished mental capacity,” USA Today reports.

Don Blandin, president and CEO of the Investor Protection Trust suggests that collaboration between health professionals, who can detect diminished mental capacity in elderly patients, regulators and other officials will prevent some of these crimes.

“Putting a major dent in the problem will require new and innovative collaborative efforts by many different experts and organizations, both public and private,” he said in a statement.

We reported a couple of weeks ago that about half of Americans are dying broke. This could be part of the reason why. Keep an eye out for your loved ones’ finances. If you find that money is missing, bills are going unpaid, or belongings have disappeared, take action.

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