Older adults and fraud: Suggestions for policy and practice


  • Olivia DaDalt




Aging population, Economic fraud, Prosperity.


In this study I examine the issue of the vulnerability of older adults especially with regard to be a potential victim of economic fraud. A general review of current facts and figures suggest that financial fraud against older adults is rising across U.S.A totaling $36 billion. Unfortunately, most of the older adults are the baby boomers’ generation, who grow up in a relative peace and prosperity condition while facing much difficult financial realities in their old life. Result also suggest the intensity of facing financial frauds by older adults are correlated with their low level of financial literacy. Given the wider context of this phenomenon, I propose some policy measures to safeguard the financial interest of the older adults.


Arias, E. United States Life Tables, 2010. National Vital Statistics Reports. National Vital Statistics System. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr63/nvsr63_07.pdf.

Boyle, M. (2013). "Aging boomers stump marketers eyeing $15 trillion prize." Bloomberg News. Retrieved from http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2013-09-17/aging-boomers-befuddle-marketers-eying-15-trillion-prize.

Bloomberg Visual Data. (2013). "Preparing for the mature consumer boom." Retrieved from http://www.bloomberg.com/infographics/2013-09-17/preparing-for-the-mature-consumer-boom.html.

Brassen S., Gamer M., and Büchel C. (2011). Anterior cingulate activation is related to a positivity bias and emotional stability in successful aging. Biol Psychiatry, 70, 131–137. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2010.10.013

Carstensen, L.L. (1993). "Motivation for social contact across the life span: A theory of socioemotional selectivity." In Nebraska Symposium on Motivation: 1992, Developmental Perspectives on Motivation, Volume 40, 209-254, J.E. Jacobs (ed.). Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

Castle E., Eisenberger N. I., Seeman T. E., Moons W. G., Boggero I. A., Grinblatt M. S., and Taylor, S.E. (2012). Neural and behavioral bases of age differences in perceptions of trust. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 109(51), 20848-20852. http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1218518109

Charles, S. T., Mather, M., & Carstensen, L. L. (2003). Aging and emotional memory: the forgettable nature of negative images for older adults. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 132(2), 310. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0096-3445.132.2.310

Covert, B. (2014). How your grandma could lose her home and her savings. Retrieved from http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2014/06/05/3445518/widows-financial-insecurity/.

Ellis, D. and Coughlin, J.F. (2014). Just when we need it most: Trust, technology, and navigating old age. Public Policy and Aging Report, 24(1), 18-20. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ppar/prt004

Finke, M.S., Howe, J., and Huston, S.J. (2011). Old age and the decline in financial literacy. Working paper. Retrieved from http://ssrn.com/abstract=1948627.

Gamble, K.J., Boyle, P.A., Yu, L., and Bennett, D.A. (2015). How does aging affect financial decision making. Issue Brief 15-1. Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA.

Harlé, K.M., & Sanfey, A.G. (2012). Social economic decision-making across the lifespan: an fMRI investigation. Neuropsychologia, 50(7), 1416–1424. Retrieved from doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2012.02.026

Hounsell, C. (2009). Protecting your mother from financial abuse and fraud. In Elder Abuse: A Women's Issue, 18-22. Retrieved from http://www.owl-national.org/Mothers_Day_Reports_files/OWL_MothersDay_Report_ 09_Final_2.pdf

Investor Protection Trust. (2010). Elder investment fraud and financial exploitation: A survey conducted for investor protection trust. Retrieved from http://www.investorprotection.org/downloads/EIFFE_Survey_ Report.pdf.

Kirchheimer, S. (2013). Protect your parents from scams. AARP, Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-08-2013/protect-your-parents-from-scams.html.

Lachs, M. S., & Berman, J. (2011). Under the radar: New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study. William B. Hoyt Memorial New York State Children, Family Trust Fund, New York State Office of Children and Family Services. Retrieved from http://ocfs.ny.gov/main/reports/Under%20the%20Radar%2005%2012%2011%20final% 20report.pdf

Marson, D.C. (2013). Clinical and ethical aspects of financial capacity in dementia: A commentary. American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 21(4), 382-389. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jagp.2013.01.033

MetLife Mature Market Institute. (2011). The MetLife study of elder financial abuse: Crimes of occasion, desperation, and predation against America's elders. Retrieved from https://www.metlife.com/mmi/ research/elder-financial-abuse.html.

National Center for Elder Abuse. (2015). Statistics. Retrieved from http://www.ncea.aoa.gov/ Library/Data/index.aspx.

National Council on Aging (NCOA). (n.d.) 22 senior scams you must know and avoid. Retrieved from https://www.ncoa.org/economic-security/money-management/scams-security/22-tips-to-avoid-scams-swindles/.

Nielsen and Boomagers, LLC. (2012). Introducing Boomers – Marketing's most valuable generation. Retrieved from http://www.nielsen.com/content/dam/corporate/us/en/reports-downloads/2012-Reports/nielsen-boomers-report-082912.pdf.

Sabatino, C.P. (2011). Damage prevention and control for financial incapacity. Journal of the American Medical Association, 305(7), 707-708. http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jama.2011.187

Scheibe, S., Notthoff, N., Menkin, J., Ross, L., Shadel, D., Deevy, M., and Carstensen, L.L. (2014). Forewarning reduces fraud susceptibility in vulnerable consumers. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 36(3), 272-279. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01973533.2014.903844

Samanez-Larkin, G.R., Li, S.C., and Ridderinkhof, K.R. (2013). Complementary approaches to the study of decision making across the adult life span. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 7, 243. http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/ fnins.2013.00243

True Link. (2015). The True Link report on elder financial abuse 2015. Retrieved from https://truelink-wordpress-assets.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/True-Link-Report-On-Elder-Financial-Abuse-012815.pdf.

United States Senate Special Committee on Aging. (2016). Fighting fraud: U.S. Senate Aging Committee identifies top 10 scams targeting our nation's seniors. Senate Report, No. 114-208. Retrieved from http://www.aging.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/217925%20Fraud%20Book%20Final.pdf.

United States Department of Justice (n.d.). Elder Justice and Prosecution. Retrieved from https://www.justice.gov/elderjustice/financial/faq.html

Widera, E., Steenpass, V., Marson, D., and Sudore, R. (2011). Finances in the older patient: He didn't want me to take over. Journal of the American Medical Association, 305(7), 698-706. http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/ jama.2011.164