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Aging can put you at risk for financial scams.
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Is There a Way to Reduce the Impact of Scams Targeting Seniors?

It's an issue that seems unlikely to go away on its own

There’s been a lot written about scams targeting seniors — whether they’re legitimate-sounding organizations or someone trying to take advantage of someone experiencing cognitive decline. The increased loneliness that many people experience as they age doesn’t help — whatever your age may be, someone offering a human connection can be appealing, even if their true motives are very different.

M. T. Connolly is known for her work in addressing issues related to the elderly — and was the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation grant for her work in the area. Now, she’s written a book on the subject, titled The Measure of Our Age: Navigating Care, Safety, Money, and Meaning Later in Life. And in a new article for The Atlantic adapting part of this book, she offers a few policy suggestions for ways to minimize the damage done by financial exploitation — whether it’s conducted by a scammer or by a family member looking for easy money.

Scams targeting seniors and how they play out

Connolly points to a few areas that have allowed financial scams to play out — including the abuse of gift cards and wire transfer fraud. By way of comparison, she discusses reforms to the broker-dealer industry, including “allowing trained employees to temporarily freeze suspicious transactions and, if appropriate, investigate or report them” — and argues that banks would benefit from taking similar steps.

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Connolly notes that there isn’t one simple fix for the problem she’s looking to solve; both fraud protection services and research into the best ways to alleviate loneliness also factor into her recommendations. One gets the sense that if even a fraction of these suggestions were implemented, it could make a big difference for many older Americans’ financial and mental health.

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