WASHINGTON — Older Americans lose an estimated $28.3 billion annually to elder financial exploitation (EFE), according to a new report from AARP. The report also shows that 87.5% of adults age 60 and older who are victimized by someone they know never report these incidents to authorities. In contrast, just one-third of victims of stranger-perpetrated EFE do not report it.
“While strangers often rely on quick and irreversible transactions such as gift cards or wire transfers, perpetrators who know the victim are more likely to gain direct access to their victims’ bank accounts. But financial exploitation of any kind wreaks havoc on the lives of older adults and their families,” said Jilenne Gunther, National Director of AARP’s BankSafe Initiative and lead author of the report. “The keys to stopping this growing problem are consumer education, frontline employee training and strengthened technology to flag suspicious activity.”
To combat underreporting and other barriers to finding the true cost of EFE, the report uses a first-of-its-kind approach that gathers data from several of the nation’s most highly regarded sources on consumer-reported losses and eliminates duplicate reports while integrating estimated unreported losses. Key findings of the report include:
- Criminals steal an estimated total of $28.3 billion from older adults each year.
- Of that $28.3 billion, known others, such as a friend, family member or caregiver, steal $20.3 billion, or 72%.
- EFE perpetrated by strangers accounts for the other $8 billion per year, or 28%.
- Of the $28.3 billion in estimated annual EFE losses, only $7.8 billion of stolen funds are reported to authorities.
- $20.5 billion is stolen each year but likely never reported to authorities.
“Through AARP BankSafe’s collaboration with more than 1,000 leading financial organizations, BankSafe-trained employees are estimated to have stopped more than $200 million from being stolen from older adults since 2019,” said Gunther. “But more must be done to ensure that we are accurately quantifying the problem and arming consumers and industry professionals with the knowledge, confidence and tools needed to better protect older adults from financial exploitation.”
Read the full report here.
AARP is the nation's largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to the more than 100 million Americans 50-plus and their families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation's largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org/about-aarp/, www.aarp.org/español or follow @AARP, @AARPenEspañol and @AARPadvocates on social media.