Senior citizens lose at least hundreds of millions of dollars each year to  fraud and various scams, but it’s difficult to know the full extent of the damage, according to a panel of experts.

That is why financial advisors must play a more central role in identifying and combating elder financial abuse, panelists said during a discussion Wednesday at BNY Mellon Pershing’s 2019 INSITE conference in Phoenix.

Frauds and scams targeting seniors are unlikely to go away as an issue, said Jim Roth, managing director for global client relationships for BNY Mellon Pershing.

“It’s been called a hidden crime, in part because so many of the victims don’t want to prosecute,” he said.

On average, 10,000 Americans are now turning 65 every day, a rate of aging that is expected to continue over the next 10 to 12 years as baby boomers continue to cross the retirement threshold. “With that, we all know that our retirements could last as much as 30 years or longer today, so it’s something we have to address in the banking community and the investment industry in order to create a solution,” Roth said.

Americans between the ages of 60 and 79 most commonly fall victim to fraud and consumers in their 60s file twice as many reports of fraud as those in their 20s, according to statistics published in 2018 by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

While consumers in their 80s made fewer fraud reports, they reported losing more assets to scams on average, according to the FTC. Americans aged 60 to 69 reported a median loss of $500 to financial fraud and those aged 70 to 79 reported a median loss of $619, but those over age 80 reported median losses of $1,100.

“What we find is that people over the age of 60 are good at spotting and reporting scams, but the people who are actually losing money who are older are ending up losing a lot of money,” said Kerry O’Brien, western regional assistant director for the FTC.

One reason it’s so difficult to calculate the real impact of elder financial abuse is that it often goes unreported, he said. The numbers the FTC publishes every year are likely “the tip of the iceberg,” said O’Brien.

Seniors may feel embarrassed or ashamed that they fall victim to fraudsters, panelists said..

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