Seniors lose average of $30,000 to financial scammers

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NEW YORK — Senior victims of financial abuse report losing big money to scammers, caregivers and even their family members.

According to a recent survey of 2,000 seniors and other adults by Allianz Life Insurance Co., elderly victims reported losing an average of $30,000, while some suffered losses of more than $100,000.

“For a senior without the ability to earn income, that’s pretty devastating to their retirement plans,” said Allianz Life Chief Executive Officer Walter White. “This isn’t petty crime.”

But perhaps even more disturbing: more seniors said they had been swindled by someone close to them as opposed to a stranger.

Financial exploitation of seniors ranges from the theft of money by a family member or caregiver to investment fraud and schemes like the popular grandparent scam, where a fraudster impersonates a family member in distress.

“To the extent that it involves a family member, there may be a lot of reluctance to admit [that they stole money],” said White.

While only 5% of seniors age 65 and older said they had lost money to a financial scheme, roughly 20% of their younger counterparts (ages 40 to 64) that were surveyed said they knew an older person who had been a victim.

Past studies have estimated that seniors lose nearly $3 billion to financial abuse each year, yet many victims stay silent. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau estimates that for every one case that gets recognized, dozens more go unreported.

“There is a certain amount of embarrassment and shame associated with it,” White said.

For advice on how to prevent or spot financial exploitation, check out this guide from the CFPB.

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