Identifying Financial Abuse in Seniors

Published On: 26th March 2013

From The Internet

The Minnesota Commerce Commissioner is once again urging CPAs and other tax professionals in Minnesota to use what they know to identify financial abuse and elder fraud. This has now become a top priority by the department and now they are advising CPAs to help their elderly clients who may have been the victims of fraud and give them assistance if they need it.

Seniors hold approximately 70 percent of the wealth in the nation, making scams that target them, such as fake investments and poor financial products, very profitable for scammers. In 2010, a survey showed that over 7 million elderly Americans had been victimized by some kind of financial scam. According to the Investor Protection Trust, these con artists make over $2 billion per year.

The most troubling statistic of all is that approximately 80 percent of these cases are not reported. The reason is because the victims are embarrassed, confused, and fearful.

Fortunately, licensed tax professionals possess the skills to identify when their clients may be victims of some kind of financial abuse. Accountants can see when the numbers don’t make sense and help bring awareness to the fraud for victims and their families.

Some things that the Minnesota Commerce Commissioner has told tax professionals to be vigilant of include:

  1. Incomplete documentation or documentation that is missing
  2. Large increases or decreases in income
  3. Gifts and promissory notes at non-competitive interest rates or gifting large sums of money to questionable individuals
  4. Unfair broker fees
  5. Investing in exotic instruments
  6. Unsuitable investments
  7. A 1035 exchange that is not suitable

Investigators with the Commerce Department are standing by to take action against fraudsters who try to take advantage of the elderly investor and taxpayer.