State authorities on Wednesday urged citizens to protect their senior loved ones from financial exploitation.
Investment scammers see anyone who is 55 or older, whether working or retired, as a potential target, authorities said in a World Elder Abuse Awareness Day warning.
“Each year [we] handle hundreds of cases involving elderly people who have been victimized financially by family members, friends, or total strangers,” acting Attorney General Robert Lougy said.
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 people ages 60 or older.
By 2030, they're expected to make up more than 25% of New Jersey’s population.
Nearly a third of the victims in the Bureau of Securities’ enforcement actions are in that age group.
Particularly vulnerable are those who are socially isolated or distanced from family, caregivers, and other support networks.
“Gone are the days where people aged in communities surrounded by generations of family members,” said Bureau Chief Laura H. Posner. "We need as many eyes and ears as possible listening and watching for signs of suspected elder investment fraud.”
A first step when something appears suspicious is to contact the Bureau of Securities to learn whether an investment professional and the product he or she is selling are registered in New Jersey before sending any money or making any investment decisions.
Be on the lookout:
· 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.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 bogus.
Contact the Bureau of Securities to find out what designations are legitimate and what they signify: www.ServeOurSeniors.org .
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.