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New national hotline for elderly victims of financial fraud

Consumer Reports News: November 01, 2011 04:08 PM

A new national hotline for seniors who believe they have been the victim of financial fraud, or have questions about potential financial exploitation will be available starting Nov. 10.

More than 7.3 million older Americans, or one in every five U.S. citizens over the age of 65, have already been the victim of a financial swindle, according to a survey by Investor Protection Trust, one of the organizations behind the creation of the new hotline.

The hotline was designed for both seniors as well as adult children of the elderly. It is also a potential resource for seniors with mild cognitive impairment who can perform most daily functions, but have trouble or become confused when it comes to managing their finances.

Several organizations came together to create and launch the hotline, including the National Adult Protective Services Association, the Financial Planning Association, the Investor Protection Trust, Investor Protection Institute, and Baylor College of Medicine.

There will actually be three different toll-free numbers available, covering general finance questions, medical finances and financial abuse.

Financial abuse questions
Dial this number to speak with an adult protective services (APS) professional about elder financial abuse and strategies for keeping yourself or a loved one independent. You can get information on how to recognize the most common ways that older adults are financially exploited, and learn about methods for preventing elder financial abuse. APS professionals will also help callers take the proper steps if they suspect that a loved one is currently being financially exploited.

Medical questions
Health care professionals at this number will have advice about medical issues such as mild cognitive impairment, which can impact an older person's ability to make wise and safe financial decisions and increase vulnerability to financial exploitation. Health care professionals can also help callers recognize the warning signs of vulnerability to financial abuse in themselves or loved ones and suggest referral routes for further medical screening.

General finance questions
Call this number to speak with an expert from the Financial Planning Association about family financial security, as well as get answers to general financial questions. For example, how to identify a financial professional that puts your interests first, and how to protect yourself and loved ones from financial fraud. FPA professionals can also help initiate a conversation about money with adult children of older parents in order to help prevent elder investment fraud and financial exploitation.

"We have witnessed a growing number of older Americans fall victim to financial swindles," Investor Protection Trust president Don Blandin said in a press release. "Millions are in danger of being exploited."

For advice on preventing financial elder abuse you can find more in our report about what to look for, whether the abuser is an outsider or family member, which first appeared in Consumer Reports Money Adviser.

Stopping Elderly Fraud Cold: States, Doctors, Financial Planners, Others to Launch National Hotline November 10th to Fight Swindlers Targeting Older Americans (pdf) [IPT]
Survey: 1 out of 5 older Americans are financial swindle victims, many adult children worry about parents' ability to handle finances (pdf) [IPT]

Maggie Shader

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