Boulder Police detective Traci Cravitz (left) and Boulder County Deputy District Attorney Jane Walsh investigate cases of elder abuse.

(John Daly/CPR News)

Colorado law enforcement and state lawmakers have cracked down on elder abuse in recent years. And it's not just physical abuse. Financial exploitation is also an issue. The National Center on Elder Abuse, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, defines financial exploitation as "the illegal or improper use of an elder's funds, property or assets."

Traci Cravitz is a detective with the Boulder Police Department. She works in the financial crime unit, and specializes in the monetary exploitation of at-risk adults. Cravitz says, on average, these kinds of cases account for more than half of her workload. 

Cravitz spoke with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner. She told Warner that seniors are vulnerable to financial exploitation from both strangers and people they know.

Cravitz on how to prevent financial abuse against elders:

  1. Help manage an elderly loved one's finances to monitor any suspicious activity in their bank accounts. It works as "checks and balances," Cravitz says.
  2. If you're 70 or older and someone calls you on your landline asking for any personal identifying information, "don't give it. Period." Cravitz says legitimate financial agencies or institutions would never call on the phone and ask for a social security number or bank account information.
  3. Get rid of your landline. If someone is attached to his or her landline and refuses to get rid of it, Cravitz suggests getting Caller ID. "If you recognize this number as someone who's scamming you, don't pick it up."

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