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Financial Elder Abuse Severely Underreported

Financial Elder Abuse Severely Underreported

MetLife discovered troubling evidence of financial exploitation of the elderly in a recent report conducted with the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the Center for Gerontology at Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University.

While underreported, the annual financial loss by victims of elder financial abuse is estimated to be at least $2.6 billion, by best case estimates says California Financial Elder Abuse Attorney Steven C. Peck.

Underreported cases of financial exploitation, especially by someone close to a vulnerable senior, is of particular concern for state officials.

“I suspect the problem is far more serious than our numbers show, because the abuse, neglect or exploitation of elders is vastly underreported,” Peck says.

The reason why is simple

“For one, if the abuse, neglect or exploitation is by a son or daughter, that vulnerable adult may not want to bring charges against their own family,” Peck indicates.

Another concern centers on the potential end result of reporting the financial exploitation.

“If the only person involved is a family member, or other caregiver, and if they’re taking advantage of a vulnerable adult, there’s a certain amount of fear if the vulnerable adult reports that they’ll have no other option but going into a nursing home,” says California Elder Abuse Attorney Steven C. Peck.

Warning signs

Such fears explain why the National Center for Elder Abuse has posted warning signs of such abuse, neglect and exploitation on its Web site, ncea.aoa.gov.

Some of the warning signs of exploitation, including coercion, might be visible signs such as bruises, pressure marks, broken bones, abrasions and burns, the center advised.

Other less visible signs include a vulnerable adult cutting back on his favorite activities, such as eating out on a regular basis.

“Unexplained withdrawal from normal activities, a sudden change in alertness, and unusual depression may be indicators of emotional abuse,” the center advised. “Sudden changes in financial situations may be the result of exploitation. Strained or tense relationships, frequent arguments between the caregiver and elderly person are also signs.”

One other reason may explain why vulnerable adults decline, in particular, to report financial exploitation are the following:


The least reported person-to-person crime was rape, Domestic violence is often underreported. Those things that happen in the family sometimes just are not reported.

What happens, however, is that either the vulnerable adult, a concerned family member or a neighbor finally reaches a breaking point, indicates Peck. When a person reaches the top of their tolerance level, that’s when it gets reported.

About the Author

Attorney Steven Peck has been practicing law since 1981. A former successful business owner, Mr. Peck initially focused his legal career on business law. Within the first three years, after some colleagues and friend’s parents endured nursing home neglect and elder abuse, he continued his education to begin practicing elder law and nursing home abuse law.

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