Around one in five elderly people is affected by theft and fraud, a new study has revealed.
The study, conducted in Northern Ireland, also found that 7 per cent of the 1,025 people studied aged 60 and older have been personally victim to financial abuse of some kind.
The report said that the emotional impact can be devastating, as the crime is often committed by people close to the victims, such as family and friends.
According to the study, there are many different types of financial abuse, from false charitable contributions and buying goods, to issues relating to inheritance and coercion.
Eddie Lynch, the Commissioner for Older People, said he was both shocked and saddened by the findings.
He said: “Aside from the financial loss itself, this crime affects the emotional wellbeing of older people, bringing with it feelings of betrayal, embarrassment, and fear.”
Mr Lynch said he had commissioned the report after realising there was widespread confusion around the scale of the problem among academics and professionals working in the field.
He hopes that the study will increase awareness of the problem, and give people more confidence to report it.
Veronica Gray, Northern Ireland Director at Action on Elder Abuse, said financial abuse can ruin an older person’s life, and urged people to “recognise it, report it, stop it”.
She added: “If you suspect that you are being abused financially, or if you know of someone who is, please tell someone who can help.”
The researchers had not included cover phone scams or junk mail in their study.