Allianz Life Study Finds Third-Party Resources Underutilized in Identifying and Preventing Elder Financial Abuse
April 20, 2015
Despite Significant Financial Impact, Many Elders Face the Problem Alone
MINNEAPOLIS – April 20, 2015 – With an average loss to victims of about $30,000,i elder financial abuse* is a significant threat facing today’s seniors. Yet, according to the Safeguarding Our Seniors** study from Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America (Allianz Life®), only 8% of elders (ages 65+) who indicated they were a victim of elder financial abuse said they are currently discussing their finances with another person and less than a quarter (24%) indicated they are keeping in touch with others on a regular basis as a way to protect themselves from future abuse.
Despite a reluctance to turn to others for help, the study of more than 2,000 Americans – elders (ages 65+) and other family/friends (ages 40-64) – found that elders who regularly talk to a third-party resource about their finances feel they are better equipped to identify and prevent elder financial abuse.
When asked if they feel they have the resources to protect themselves from elder financial abuse, 84% of elders who regularly talk with friends/family about their finances and 82% who speak with hired professionals (financial professionals, lawyers and/or accountants) said they are confident they do versus only 70% of elders who don’t connect with any third-party resources. Similarly, when asked what actions they would take to protect themselves from elder financial abuse, 83% of elders who talk about their finances with a hired professional and 70% of those who speak with friends/family said they would turn to these trusted others on a regular basis as a method of protecting themselves from future abuse.
“An objective third party is very valuable to detect, prevent, or mitigate elder financial abuse,” said Allianz Life President and CEO Walter White. “Seniors and their caregivers need more education about how third-party resources can add an important perspective and help protect them from becoming victims of elder financial abuse.”
In addition to highlighting that elders who discuss their finances with a third-party resource feel better prepared to identify and prevent elder financial abuse, the Safeguarding Our Seniors study also established that these elders are more likely than those who talk to no one to take a number of sensible protective actions including:
|Those who talk about finances with a hired professional||Those who talk about finances with friends/family||Those who talk about finances with no one|
|Checking monthly credit card, bank, and other financial statements||97%||94%||84%|
|Never signing documents they don’t completely understand||93%||94%||82%|
|Shredding or tearing up sensitive financial documentation (e.g., credit card and bank statements||85%||85%||69%|
|Assigning a co-signer to their checking, savings accounts, etc.||37%||32%||14%|
“When seniors have a trusted person – whether it’s a friend, family member, or hired professional – to help them manage their finances, they have a much better chance of feeling confident in their ability to protect themselves financially,” added White. “We believe that confidence is well justified. The financial services industry can play an important role by connecting elders and their caregivers with resources that can help protect them from financial abuse.”
To raise awareness of elder financial abuse, Allianz Life partnered with the Better Business Bureau and created the Safeguarding Our Seniors volunteer program. This unique program, open to Allianz Life employees and community members, sends volunteers to community and senior organizations to educate and encourage discussion on the topic. In addition, Allianz Life worked with the Better Business Bureau to develop the Preventing Elder Financial Abuse Tip Sheet, available via www.allianzlife.com/sos, which contains red flags to watch for and tips for prevention. Seniors with concerns about questionable offers they’ve received or who are looking to find reliable companies to work with can contact the Better Business Bureau at 800-646-6222 or visit www.bbb.org for more information.
In order to help financial professionals understand the scope of the problem and how they can be better resources for their clients, Allianz Life created the Preventing Elder Financial Abuse education course. Available to financial professionals who work with Allianz Life, the Preventing Elder Financial Abuse course is one of many topics with support materials that Allianz Life offers to more than 20,000 financial professionals every year.
About Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America
Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America, one of FORTUNE’s 100 Best Companies to Work For in 2015, has been keeping its promises since 1896. Today, it carries on that tradition, helping Americans achieve their retirement income and protection goals with a variety of annuities and life insurance products. As a leading provider of fixed index annuities, Allianz Life is part of Allianz SE, a global leader in the financial services industry with 147,000 employees worldwide. More than 85 million private and corporate customers rely on Allianz knowledge, global reach, and capital strength to help them make the most of financial opportunities.
*Elder financial abuse is defined in the study as the unauthorized or improper use of resources of an elder family member or friend, who is 65 years or older, for monetary or personal benefit, profit, or gain.
**The Allianz Life Safeguarding Our Seniors Study was conducted by Ipsos via their online iSay/Ampario Panel from March 11 – 21, 2014 with 2,248 panel respondents ages 40-65+ (n=1,025 for adults ages 40-64 and n=1,223 for adults ages 65+) and was commissioned by Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America.
i Allianz Life Safeguarding Our Seniors study, March 2014.