New Jersey Bureau of Securities Marks "World Elder Abuse Awareness Day" With Tips for Keeping Senior Citizens Safe from Financial Exploitation
NEWARK - The New Jersey Bureau of Securities today marked World Elder Abuse Awareness Day by offering tips for keeping senior citizens safe from the growing threat of elder financial exploitation.
From simple phone scams to complex investment fraud, one in five Americans over 65 has been financially exploited, and even the most conservative estimates fix the annual cost of elder fraud at more than $2.6 billion.
“New Jersey senior citizens are not immune to this growing problem. Each year the Office of Attorney General handles hundreds of cases involving elderly people who have been victimized financially by family members, friends, or total strangers,” said Acting Attorney General Robert Lougy. “Today we’re joining communities across the nation and around the world in raising awareness of elder fraud and educating the public on how to fight it.”
Experts say financial abuse of the elderly is rising with the rapid aging of the North American population, due in part to the amount of wealth seniors have accumulated throughout their careers. According to recent estimates, New Jersey currently ranks 10th in the nation in the number of individuals aged 60 or older. By 2030, individuals aged 60 or older are expected to make up more than 25% of New Jersey’s population.
“Protecting the elderly, an ever growing segment of consumers, through public outreach and education is a top priority for the Division,” said Steve Lee, Acting Director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. “World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is an excellent opportunity to remind seniors of the dangers of financial exploitation.”
Approximately a quarter of all investment fraud complainants in the New Jersey are aged 60 or older, and nearly a third of the victims in the Bureau of Securities’ enforcement actions are aged 60 or older. Senior citizens who are socially isolated or distanced from family, caregivers, and other support networks are particularly vulnerable to investment fraud.
“Gone are the days where people aged in communities surrounded by generations of family members,” said Laura H. Posner, Bureau Chief. “While the Bureau is at the forefront of combating senior investment fraud, we need as many eyes and ears as possible listening and watching for signs of suspected elder investment fraud.”
In conjunction with World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, Posner will be speaking on the topic of elder investment fraud and financial exploitation at the quarterly meeting of the Salem County Triad – an organization which includes members of law enforcement, senior organizations and senior citizens
Among the topics she’ll discuss is the need for caregivers and family members to be on the lookout for these warning signs that an elderly person is being financially exploited:
Has an elder moved away from existing relationships and toward new associations with other “friends” or strangers?
Has a new person entered the elder’s life and shown an excessive interest in the elder’s finances or accounts?
Are you unable to speak directly with the elder despite repeated attempts at contact?
- Does the elder display unexplained excitement over a financial windfall or prize check and reluctance to discuss details?
Seniors who are interested in investing are encouraged to follow these tips BEFORE handing over any money:
- Contact the Bureau to find out if the investment professional and security they are selling are registered.
- Review all information regarding the investment with a trusted relative or friend.
- Allow time for careful consideration - scam artists will often try to rush people into making an investment decision.
- Understand the risks, restrictions and costs of the investment. Never buy without fully understanding every aspect of the transaction.
Further, elderly investors should be encouraged to avoid free lunch (or dinner) investment seminars which are often used to lure them into investing in unsuitable or even fraudulent products. Seniors attending such an event should be cautious of the financial advice and recommendations being made, and never provide their personal information to anyone. If an investment sounds interesting, they can contact the presenter after fully vetting the investment professional and the offer with the Bureau.
Elderly investors should also beware of individuals who claim to hold a specialized license in managing the finances of seniors, such as “Certified Retirement Planner,” “Certified Senior Advisor” and “Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor.” Many of these designations are not legitimate. Contact the Bureau of Securities to find out what designations are legitimate and what they signify.
Further information for both elderly investors and their caregivers can be found on the Bureau’s
website or at
The Bureau is charged with protecting investors from investment fraud and regulating the securities industry in New Jersey. It is critical that investors “Check Before You Invest.” Investors can obtain information, including the registration status and disciplinary history, of any financial professional doing business to or from New Jersey, by contacting the Bureau toll-free within New Jersey at
1-866-I-INVEST (1-866-446-8378) or from outside New Jersey at 973-504-3600, or by visiting the Bureau’s website at