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All in the Family: Caregivers Stealing from MD Seniors

Senior citizens in Maryland are increasingly becoming victims of financial crime, including by members of their own family according to AARP. Photo credit: International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse
Senior citizens in Maryland are increasingly becoming victims of financial crime, including by members of their own family according to AARP. Photo credit: International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse
June 17, 2013

BALTIMORE - We hear a lot about Internet and phone scams targeting seniors, but they are also being victimized by members of their own families who are stealing money or running up debts, according to AARP. The group is working with state agencies and other advocacy groups this month to raise awareness of the problem.

According to Jennifer Holz, AARP Maryland associate state director for outreach, younger family members may take advantage of the effects of aging on older members.

"A common scenario I would say oftentimes occurs with an older adult who is in some way experiencing some form of dementia, may not be aware that it's taking place, may not be aware how to report it if it is taking place," as she described what may happen.

Holz said that under a Maryland law, bank tellers in the state are trained to spot signs of such abuse.

As she described what such situations might look like, "There's unusual activity on the account, or if a customer comes into the branch and they're with a person who is either a loved one, or somebody who appears to be a caregiver, and it looks like they're being bullied into taking money out."

A recent MetLife study found that seniors lose at least $2.6 billion annually to financial exploitation. It also says that 34 percent of financial abuse in the United States is committed by family members, caregivers and friends.

The Maryland Department of Aging has a hot line for seniors who believe they are victims of financial abuse: 1-800-91-PREVENT.

A link to hot line information is at aging.maryland.gov.


Alison Burns, Public News Service - MD