Financial exploitation is costing seniors and New York state nearly $1.5 billion each year. A new multi-agency study shows that in many cases victims aren't aware the crimes are taking place.
The study conducted by the state Office of Children and Family Services shows that cash, checks, and debit cards are the most commonly stolen items from seniors age 60 and over. Benefit checks, deeds, real estate, retirement accounts and vehicles are also targets.
"People are very hesitant to step into someone else's personal business and I think that prevents a lot of people from getting help because nobody wants to step in where they don't belong or ask about people's personal business," said Leilani Pelletier, executive director of the Alzheimer's Association of Western New York. That hesitancy often comes at a cost to vulnerable individuals. The study indicates that one-third of the elderly victims have a form of dementia or some other mental impairment.
Finding somebody to trust can be difficult for victims. In another troubling finding, 60 percent of those stealing from the elderly are adult relatives.
Pelletier encourages neighbors and other acquaintances to be vigilant in watching for some of the signs like if "they are unable to talk with you about their finances and what's happening. If they seem not to understand about their finances and what's happening. If they seem unusually nervous or unusually more protective of their information."
To report a case of suspected elder abuse, call 1-844-697-3505.