Preventing Elder Financial Exploitation

By KBJR News 1

May 17, 2013 Updated May 17, 2013 at 8:25 AM CST

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- Financial exploitation of our older generation is on the rise.

Senior citizens make up nearly 70 percent of the nation’s wealth, and crooks know it.

From telemarketing and check scams to fake home repairs and identity theft, older adults are being taken by scam artists for about $3 billion each year.

"They don't want to admit that they were the victim of this because they believe that people think it reflects poorly on them,” Sergeant Thomas Stolee of the Duluth Police Property & Financial Crimes Unit.

Experts say the best line of defense against fraud is awareness. Be attentive to warning signs from neighbors, friends and loved ones and listen to concerns.

"Don't discount it, because that's what people are exploiting, that this person may not be believed," Mark Nelson, St. Louis County Division Director of Adult Services said.

Older people, including vulnerable adults, sometimes may not be able to discern who is honest and who is trying to scam.

"Sometimes you'll see things start disappearing from Grandma's house, or even from their room at the assisted living facility," Melanie Spencer, Guardian and Conservator for Lutheran Social Service said.

"It can be very successful, employed people that you wouldn't expect that would be exploiting somebody for their resources," Nelson said.

Nelson says 80 percent of the time; the exploitation is done by a family member.

"For some reason within families there is a sense of entitlement that, mom and dad don't need this, so I'm going to take it," he said.

Authorities, county workers and organizations like LSS are working together to bring exploiters to justice.

"People who steal from people can expect a likihood of criminal prosecution," Nelson said.

Agencies stress the importance of reporting exploitation early.

"Even if it's blurred, and there can't be a criminal prosecution for whatever reason, it will still stop what is going on," Stolee said.

If you are experiencing financial exploitation, consider calling your county's Common Entry Point to seek assistance.

St. Louis County CEP:(218) 726-2164.

LSS Financial Counseling Service:1-888-577-2227

Jennifer Walch
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