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Financial elder abuse

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It's tough to imagine that there are people who take advantage of the elderly, especially family members. However, many cases continue to come to light.

According to a 2010 study by MetLife, the annual financial losses experienced by victims of financial elder abuse is estimated to be more than $2.9 billion. And the study found that those suspected of the crime are more likely to be a person in a position of trust, such as a friend, family member or service care provider.

But because of privacy laws, many financial workers who suspect some kind of wrongdoing against their elderly clients have not reported their suspicions.

Now, in an effort to reduce financial elder abuse across the country, a number of federal regulatory agencies have issued new guidelines stating that privacy protections provide clear exceptions in the case of addressing fraud or other illegal misconduct, including elder financial exploitation.

The agencies said that often when a senior has money stolen from them by a family member or scammer, they are too embarrassed to tell anyone. They said that's why it's so important that those who spot a problem report the crime.

The General Accounting Office pointed out recently that the problem of financial elder abuse is only expected to get worse as the U.S. population ages, which means its potential impact on society is also likely to increase.

If you or someone you love has been affected by financial elder abuse, a qualified financial attorney may be able to help victims recoup their losses.