The elderly and otherwise vulnerable adults are frequent crime victims. Only the sickest of criminals prey on them. A recent proposal in Minnesota would toughen that state's penalties, at least for consumer fraud.
Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton has included a proposed law in his budget that would added an additional $10,000 fine for consumer fraud crimes against the elderly or vulderable adults.
So, how big of a problem are these crimes?
Nationally speaking, the elderly make up some 20% of financial abuse victims.
According to a recent Minneapolis Star Tribune article titled “Dayton wants new financial protection law for elderly, vulnerable to protect from scams,” the elderly are easy marks for scammers because old age often means reduced cognitive abilities.
In addition, the Minnesota Governor has proposed a plan that would add a $1 fee to insurers for every life insurance or annuity product they sell. This additional funding, it is claimed, would help hire outreach employees, a senior ombudsman, and an investigator.
About 13 percent of Minnesotans were 65 or older in 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and like many other parts of the country, that elderly population is expected to increase greatly in the next ten years.
But the future already may be here.
The Star Tribune reported that more than 50% of the victims in the financial exploitation reports to the state's Adult Protective Services office last year were elderly.
Elderly people can fall victim to scams from strangers, friends or family members. Unfortunately, the victims do not always such crimes when they occur. The reasons are varied, however many seniors are either afraid of retribution or embarrassed for being duped.
Be prepared. Contact an experienced elder law attorney if you suspect abuse of any kind. Make sure you and your love ones are protected from scammers before they strike.
Remember: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When making your financial, tax and estate plans, do not go it alone. Be sure to engage competent professional counsel.
For more information about estate planning in Overland Park, KS (and throughout the rest of Kansas and Missouri) and to download free tools to help you organize your estate, visit my estate planning website.