What is Seniors Protection Network?
The Elder Financial Protection Network advocates against the financial abuse of seniors. Find out how they help against this form of elder abuse.
Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone was nice? While that’s a wonderful ideal to live up to, sadly the real world doesn’t always deliver, and older people are, regrettably, a very vulnerable group who are open to financial abuse and scams. Luckily, some organizations are devoted to protecting seniors from financial abuse.
The Elder Financial Protection Network is a California-based non-profit organization that helps raise awareness and educate both seniors and financial professionals about the financial abuse of seniors. They advocate against elder financial abuse, offer support for the abused, and help boost community action about this often-hidden form of elder abuse.
What is the Elder Financial Protection Network?
The Elder Financial Protection Network (EFPN) is a non-profit organization based in Petaluma, California, and working throughout the United States. They are dedicated to combating the financial abuse and exploitation of seniors, especially their vulnerability to fraud, scams, and financial manipulation.
How can the Elder Financial Protection Network help?
The primary mission of the Elder Financial Protection Network is to empower seniors to make informed financial decisions, protect their assets, and ultimately, preserve their financial independence.
To achieve this overarching goal, EFPN focuses on several critical areas:
Education and awareness
Knowledge and empowerment are powerful tools in the fight against financial abuse. The primary goal of the EFPN is to educate seniors about their finances, so they cannot be exploited.
The network conducts workshops, seminars, and outreach programs to educate seniors about common scams, fraudulent practices, and strategies to safeguard their finances. They may also train professionals such as healthcare workers, law enforcement personnel, and financial advisors to help them identify victims of financial abuse and take appropriate actions. By arming them with this information, the EFPN hopes to create a better-informed elder community.
Advocacy and support
Seniors are not alone when it comes to fighting the financial abuse of elders. EFPN also engages with policymakers, financial institutions, and law enforcement agencies in its advocacy work, with the hopes of creating a safer environment for the elderly.
The network also offers support services to victims of financial abuse, connecting them with resources to help. They also run public awareness campaigns to encourage community members in the prevention, intervention, and reporting of abuse. They may distribute information materials like brochures and online resources that provide information on how to identify and prevent financial abuse of seniors.
Community partnerships and professionals
EFPN works with partners in local communities, financial institutions, and senior service organizations to combat financial abuse, too. They also offer training to financial professionals and even caregivers and mandatory reporters to help educate them on the early signs of financial abuse and how to get the affected seniors the help they need.
If you suspect you are being abused, or have noticed a case of abuse against a senior, you can call them 24/7 to connect with help and resources.
Common financial threats faced by seniors
Seniors are often a target for financial fraud because the ‘bad guys’ know the elderly are less likely to be up-to-date on current scams. Seniors may also be reluctant to seek help due to fear and pride and are often isolated and unable to stand up for themselves. Pair that with potential cognitive decline or issues like dementia and Alzheimer’s, and you have a population very open to potential abuse.
Here are some specific areas where seniors are often financially targeted:
Scams and schemes
Fraudsters are frighteningly good at talking people into divulging personal information or parting with their savings. Common scams include fake lottery winnings, fraudulent investment opportunities, and phishing schemes.
Identity theft and exploitation
Seniors are vulnerable to identity theft, where fraudsters steal their personal information and use it to open new accounts, access existing accounts, or seek services using the stolen documents.
While we typically think of outright fraudsters using information they’ve phished to open fake bank accounts, seniors can also be targeted by those who should be keeping them safe- caregivers and family. From stealing Social Security income to using debit cards and funneling money from their bank accounts or outright threatening or withholding care from the elderly until they are given money, unscrupulous people can get access to funds that seniors are entitled to.
Seniors may also be pressured into changing their will or giving away large amounts of their financial assets to people they wouldn’t choose, especially if there is fear, threat, or cognitive decline in the mix.
Unscrupulous financial ‘advisors’
Seniors seeking financial guidance may encounter unscrupulous individuals posing as financial advisors. These individuals exploit their clients' trust, steering them toward fraudulent investments or exorbitant fees for unnecessary services. While many of these individuals are fraudsters, sadly a significant number are also legitimate financial service providers who see an ‘easy mark’- they may even have been trusted advisors for years, making it very difficult to explain the situation to the person being abused.
You cannot live a dignified and independent life without financial security and trust in how your assets are handled and managed. A key part of planning for your golden years should include having the knowledge and safeguards to prevent yourself from being a victim of financial fraud as you age. Luckily, there are organizations like the EFPN working to combat the financial abuse of seniors. If you suspect you or a loved one is being taken advantage of, don’t hesitate to reach out for their help.