Consumer Advisory: Isolation and loneliness during the COVID-19 pandemic may leave seniors vulnerable to investment fraud

DENVER - June 15, 2020 - In recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) in the month of June, Colorado Securities Commissioner Tung Chan and  Division of Securities, part of the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), remind financial professionals and the public throughout Colorado that heightened isolation and loneliness during the COVID-19 pandemic have created a perfect storm for senior financial exploitation.  

“Social isolation has long been one of the leading factors contributing to the financial exploitation of older investors, and the unprecedented quarantines to protect against the spread of the novel coronavirus have taken social isolation to a new dimension for many seniors, making them more vulnerable to financial exploitation,” Commissioner Chan said. 

While financial abuse can happen at any time, perpetrators often strike during times in a senior’s life when they may be more vulnerable, such as during a health crisis or after the death of a loved one. Scammers often gather personal details from obituaries and social media posts and use this information to target their victims. Some even will exploit trust within seniors’ social and support groups to become more involved in their lives.  

How You Can Help:

  • While in-person visits may not be possible yet, be sure to keep in touch with older family members, friends, and neighbors. Call or leave a note on their front door. If they have the technology, send them a text or email, or contact them via Facetime, Skype, Zoom or other video apps. Contact is key to letting your loved ones know you are thinking of them and that they are not alone.
  • Let your older family members know that fraudsters and scammers have found ways to exploit the pandemic. Make them aware of the red flags of fraud, which remain consistent regardless of the fraud or scam. Information regarding COVID-19 scams can be found in a previously-released DORA consumer advisory. Additional information on general red flags of fraud and exploitation can be found on the Division of Securities investor education website’s “Learn how to avoid being a victim” section.

Commissioner Chan asks anyone with suspicions of possible senior financial exploitation to contact the Division of Securities by calling 303-894-2320 or emailing us at dora_SecuritiesWebsite@state.co.us.

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Media Contact:
Sarah Strasser