The Rule of 78

I want to share with you part of the ‘take-away’ from a wonderful webinar sponsored in part by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

Fraud and the elderly is a hot topic according to the presenters of the webinar. You can find my articles about the subject on my website

The pace of scams has escalated. One reason proposed is that there is an actual “date” which the predators use.

It is known as the Rule of 78.   Yes, when you turn 78 you become more vulnerable to scams because there is a significant increase in mailings and telephone calls targeted to the elderly on that birthday!

Elder financial exploitation through scams actually can be targeted by predators to those individuals who are 78 years of age; who have some income; who live in their own homes and by other demographic information, including use of credit cards. The predators buy these lists of names and then use them for their own purposes, i.e. scamming/defrauding as much money over as long a period of time as possible from the vulnerable of our society.

Make no mistake…there is an Elder Fraud Industry worth billions of dollars and the predators depend on such things as cognitive decline; vulnerable age;  and the ‘hunter’s list’.

Some of the specific scams have even been given names: The Nigerian 419 scam; the Grandparent Scam; The Jamaican Sweepstakes Scam and Threats; The door-to-door Solar Sales Scam; the Sweetheart Scam; the iTune gift card Scam; and the Home Improvement/Roofing scam are only a few.  There are new scams every day and derivatives of previous scams.

Sadly, numerous people have been targets of scams more than once and some up to twelve times. There is also a large uptick in cross-border fraud – wiring money to foreign countries.

There exist lists of victims including the Super Victim List of those elderly who have been scammed out of $10,000 or more and the Mega Victims List of those elderly scammed out of $100,000 or more.

In North Carolina alone (according to one presenter of the webinar)  between 2009 and 2015 there have been a total of close to $30 million defrauded from the elderly (that is reported cases). Many more cases go unreported.

North Carolina in 2013 implemented a series of government policies and financial regulations that were able to partially reduce the activity of such scams.

A good website for general knowledge about financial exploitation and the elderly is (then go to Information for Older Americans then to Resource Guide.)

You can take a “course” – it is free- via Money Smart for Older Adults that will help to improve your awareness and give you tools to combat financial exploitation.

According to the site: “Why are older adults at risk of financial exploitation?”

“The following circumstances or conditions, especially in combination, can make an older adult more vulnerable to financial exploitation.”

Older adults may:

  • Have regular income and accumulated assets
  • Be trusting and polite
  • Be lonely and socially isolated
  • Be vulnerable due to grief from the loss of a spouse, family member, friend, or pet
  • Be reluctant to report exploitation by a family member, caregiver, or someone they depend on
  • Be dependent on support from a family member or caregiver to remain independent
  • Be receiving care from a person with substance abuse, gambling or financial problems, or mental health issues
  • Fear retaliation by the exploiter
  • Be unfamiliar with managing financial matters
  • Be unprepared for retirement and the potential loss of financial decision-making capacity
  • Have cognitive impairments that affect financial decision-making and judgment
  • Be dependent on a family member, caregiver or another person who may pressure them for money or control of their finances.”

Another website (from the webinar) is the North Carolina Dept. of Justice website: – but be forewarned that some of the links are broken on that site.

 Working To Preserve Your Wealth and Protect Your Future…in a Constantly Changing World

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About Attorney Barbara Ann Dalvano

Attorney in Denver, Colorado with extensive practice experience in the areas of Estate Planning, Wills and Trusts, Business Succession Planning, Probate, Contract Law.

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