According to the National Council on Aging, one in 10 Americans age 60 and over experience a form of elder abuse in any given year.1 Of those cases, elder financial abuse specifically costs Americans over $37 billion each year.2

As a part of the physical aging process, seniors may experience natural cognitive decline that affects their reasoning ability and decision-making skills. This makes them especially vulnerable to fraud or other forms of abuse.

Close family members, caregivers and other trusted individuals may be in the right position to detect exploitation, fraud or abuse. Be alert for suspicious or unusual behavior.


Would you know how to protect your loved ones from these types of crimes?


What are some signs that a loved one is being abused?

He or she may:

  • Receive large numbers of phone solicitations or donation requests.
  • Fall prey to marketing scams or questionable merchant behavior.
  • Purchase multiple retail gift cards or large money orders at the request of a “relative” who’s “in trouble.”
  • Receive calls from banks, utility companies or other vendors regarding account problems.
  • Be excited about a recent lottery winning and need cash to obtain their prize.
  • Not remember requesting certain transactions.
  • Be hesitant to explain financial transactions.
  • Appear fearful of an individual or a situation (loss of housing).

 

In addition, you or another caregiver may notice:

  • A significant change in their financial habits (making more frequent or larger withdrawals).
  • A new “friend” or “family member” who insistently requests information about the elderly person’s accounts, or who tries to make changes without the senior’s permission. This person could be an acquaintance, a family member, a caregiver or even someone they meet on-line.
  • The elderly person giving this new “friend” or unconnected individual power of attorney.
  • Questionable signatures on documents, or numbers on financial documents that appear forged or changed.
  • Sudden or unexplained changes in beneficiaries on life insurance policies or addresses on financial statements.

 

How is Symetra helping to prevent financial crime against the elderly?

Symetra monitors transactions and client activity to protect seniors against financial crimes. This includes reviewing:

  • Insurance product purchases that are inconsistent with the customer’s needs.
  • Unusual payment methods.
  • Refunds requested under “free look” or “right to return contract” provisions.
  • Early product terminations—especially at a cost to the customer—or where payment is made by, or the refund check is directed to, apparently unrelated third parties.
  • Transfers of product benefits to apparently unrelated third parties.
  • Documents that appear false or altered.
  • Purchases or transactions that don’t appear to make economic sense for the customer.
  • Policies or contracts with mailing addresses outside the United States or Canada.
  • Individuals purchasing policies or contracts in someone else’s name without reasonable explanation.

 

What do I do if I suspect a loved one has been victimized?

  • Contact 911 or your local law enforcement if the person is in immediate danger or has been a victim of fraud.
  • Review the National Adult Protective Services Association’s list of local resources.
  • Contact Symetra at 1-800-796-3872 or rpteth@symetra.com with concerns regarding the victim’s account.
  • Connect with the elderly person’s attorney, who may be able to help by stopping payments if necessary.

 

Symetra is highly committed to the health and well-being of our clients and to serving our communities.

 


This material is not intended to provide investment, tax or legal advice.
1 https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMra1404688
2 https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2018-05-03/america-s-elderly-are-losing-37-billion-a-year-to-fraud