Retirement & Financial Planning Report

More than 7million Americans over the age of 65 – one out of every five– already have been victimized by a financial scam, with losses approaching $3 billion, according to the Senate Special Committee on Aging.

The committee warned that financial exploitation continues to be a growing problem, calling for steps including reforms of rules regarding release of financial records to adult protective services and law enforcement agencies investigating suspected cases of elder financial exploitation.

Although states have primary responsibility for combating elder financial exploitation, the federal government could disseminate information on model power of attorney legislation, for example, to help states better safeguard against power of attorney abuse, said a study commissioned by the panel.

Recommended steps for individuals to take include conducting semi-annual reviews of credit reports; reconciling bank accounts in a timely manner; maintaining a suspicious approach regarding any calls, e-mails or letters asking for any personal information and avoiding giving out Social Security numbers.