I was in San Juan, Puerto Rico this weekend, participating in a panel sponsored by the North American Securities Administrators Association. Hey, someone has to take the tough assignments.
One issue that has regulators particularly worried financial fraud on the elderly. It’s a big business: 10,000 Baby Boomers turn 65 every day, and more than half of state securities regulators’ enforcement actions involve seniors.
One of the biggest worries is for elderly investors in the early stages of mental impairment. They’re easily misled, and, because they can sense their impairment, are sometimes too trusting of others.Those who have recently lost a spouse or are socially isolated are the most vulnerable.
Other red flags include when an older person:
- Complains that children frequently pester him to change is will, or to give money.
- Runs of of money at the end of the month, or complains that bills are difficult to understand.
- Says he can’t reach his adviser.
- Complains he’s uncomfortable with a caregiver.
It doesn’t take much to stop by and check on an older person, and preventing fraud is just one reason to do so. If you’re alarmed, consider contacting your state securities administrator. You can get contact information for state securities regulators at http://www.nasaa.org. You can also get help from Adult Protective Service: www. apsnetwork.org.