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07/29

Billions of Dollars Lost Due to Online Elder Abuse

Posted by: Jack Bernstein

Older-person-using-comput-007When we think of the Internet and who uses it or we think of hand-held devices and who may be on the other end of our text messages or our photos, few if any of us would think of our grandparents or someone else who is of retirement age.  The Internet is still relatively new to the world even though an entire generation of children has grown up not knowing what it was like to be without it.  As such, most people would assume that older Americans are not making much use of the Internet and all of its capabilities.

That is not necessarily the case.  A Pew Research poll was done in 2012 that looked into the number of people who were at least 65 years old who used the Internet or email, and it found that 53 percent of them did so.  The study also found that once older people began to use the Internet that they were highly likely to continue to do so, as the study showed that 70 percent of people in this age group in the United States will use it on any given day instead of for a specific reason or occasion.  A link to the full text of that study can be found here

Generally speaking, this move to the online world by older Americans would be considered by many to be a good thing.  It can make communication much easier with relatives who may not live nearby and it can make the lives of seniors easier in many different ways.  Unfortunately, using the Internet can also expose older people to many of the scams that have not only been around online for years but also to many of the same schemes that have taken older people’s money in the offline world for generations.

Recently, the MetLife Mature Institute released a report that estimated the amount of loss suffered by seniors due to financial elder abuse was approximately $2.9 billion in 2011, which represented a jump by a factor of 12 percent from the year 2008.  A link to this report can be found here.  Estimates indicate that as many as 45 percent of the seniors who suffer from this type of elder abuse got caught up in scams that originated online, either via email or through some type of social network.  An article regarding this growing problem can be found on the Huffington Post.

There are certain things that you can do if you’re concerned that an older relative may be susceptible to online scams.  Examples include:

  • Talk to them about which emails they answer.
  • Ask them about their online browsing habits.
  • Discuss the dangers of online scams with them.
  • Spend some time with them on their computers to see what they do.

If you or someone you love has suffered as a result of this form of elder abuse, contact the Las Vegas injury lawyers at Bernstein & Poisson today to schedule a free initial consultation.

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