Protect The Elderly From Financial Scams
17,650 signatures toward our 30,000 Goal
Sponsor: The Alzheimer's Site
Seniors are easily victimized by crafty criminals, and the authorities often ignore their cases.
The Elder Abuse Prevention and Protection Act of 2017 helped control financial crimes against seniors by strengthening penalties for perpetrators, increasing appropriate training for federal investigators, and mandating that each federal judicial district have a prosecutor in charge of handling cases of elder abuse1. However, financial fraud against seniors is still underreported, under-investigated, and under-prosecuted, and the issue continues to grow2.
Sadly, seniors often never recover — either financially or psychologically — from these hateful crimes3.
Worst of all, about 90% of the cases of elder financial abuse are by family members and caretakers. These people have access to seniors' bank accounts, so their corrupt use of the money is not always recognized as a serious crime4.
Often, the issue is treated as a civil dispute rather than a theft or property crime or not noticed at all, due to the victim's cognitive impairment5.
This dismissal of "grandparent scams" and other financial crimes against seniors is one reason why seniors are reluctant to report these crimes. It's also one reason why there are very few Elder Abuse Units in the country, despite the fact that there are more elder abuse cases than many other types of crimes that are afforded more resources6. Roughly 1 in 20 seniors reports being financially abused in the past year, and so many more cases are never reported7.
We need to make sure the elderly members of our society are protected and that those who prey on them receive the strictest penalties possible. We appreciate the recent legislation that has improved certain aspects of this problem, but the federal government needs to continue to focus on this pressing matter.
It's time for the issue of financial crimes against seniors get the attention it deserves in the public eye and also for politicians and law enforcement to take it more seriously. It's time for a significant decrease in "grandparent scams" and the misuse of funds by people who have access to senior citizens' bank accounts.
Sign the petition to tell the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection to focus on creating more Elder Abuse Units and stronger legislation against those who commit financial crimes that victimize seniors.
- Sen. Chuck Grassley, 115th Congress (20 January 2017), "S.178 - Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act."
- National Adult Protective Services Association (2022), "Elder Financial Exploitation."
- David Brancaccio, Marketplace, Minnesota Public Radio (16 March 2019), "Age of fraud: Are seniors more vulnerable to financial scams?"
- National Care Planning Council (18 August 2016), "Perpetrators of Elder Abuse Are Usually Family Members."
- Nursing Home Abuse Center (2022), "Elder Abuse Statistics."
- National Institute of Justice (14 April 2010), "Prosecuting Elder Abuse Cases."
- National Council on Aging (2021), "Get the Facts on Elder Abuse."
To the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection:
In a perfect world, there would be no crime. Perhaps we can't create that world, but we can create a world where all crimes are properly investigated and the perpetrators are punished in accordance with their crimes. Sadly, that is not the world we live in right now.
The public is more interested in physically violent and sensational crimes like gang activity, human trafficking, and child abuse. Elder abuse, particularly financial crimes, are not getting the attention they deserve. There are very few Elder Abuse Units compared to the number of crimes they're called on to investigate, and the authorities are too quick to dismiss theft cases as civil disputes.
But these crimes are heinous, despite their inability to make the front page of the newspapers. People's entire life savings are at stake, as well as their mental health. Seniors often never recover their money or their psychological well-being after a traumatic event like this.
Moreover, the U.S. population is aging: the number of people 65 and older will nearly double in 30 years, to one out of five in the U.S. As the U.S. population of older people expands scammers are getting more technologically sophisticated. This vulnerable population needs greater protections now more than ever.
We need to be doing more to protect our seniors from financial crimes. We demand that more Elder Abuse Units be put in place to properly deal with financial crimes against seniors and that stricter laws be passed to prosecute those who commit these terrible deeds.