Tips for Protecting the Finances of Seniors

July 25, 2016óYou, or someone you know, could become the victim of a growing crime in America ó financial abuse of older Americans. Seniors are increasingly becoming targets for financial abuse. As people over 50 years old control over 70 percent of the nationís wealth, fraudsters are using new tactics to take advantage of retiring baby boomers and the growing number of older Americans. Senior financial abuse is estimated to have cost victims at least $2.9 billion last year alone.

What Is Elder Financial Abuse?What Is Elder Financial Abuse?
Itís a crime that deprives older adults of their resources and ultimately their independence. Anyone who sees signs of theft, fraud, misuse of a personís assets or credit, or use of undue influence to gain control of an older personís money or property should be on the alert. Those are signs of possible exploitation. Older Americans that may have disabilities or rely on others for help can be susceptible to scams and other fraud. Advances in technology can also make it difficult for seniors to know who to trust and whatís safe.

Despite these threats, taking simple steps to safeguard personal information and being aware of warning signs can protect aging men and women from financial abuse. 

To help older Americans and their caregivers protect themselves or their loved ones from financial abuse, here are some worthwhile tips: 
1) Plan ahead to protect your assets and to ensure your wishes are followed. Talk to someone at your financial institution, an attorney, or financial advisor about the best options for you.
2) Carefully choose a trustworthy person to act as your agent in all estate-planning matters. Select someone who has your best interest at heart. 
3) Never give personal information, including your Social Security Number, account number or other financial information to anyone over the phone unless you initiated the call and the other party is trusted.
4) Stay alert to common fraud schemes. Never pay a fee or taxes to collect sweepstakes or lottery "winnings." 
5) Never rush into a financial decision. Ask for details in writing and consult with a financial advisor or attorney before signing any document you donít understand. 
6) Check references and credentials before hiring anyone. Donít allow worker to have access to information about your finances and makes sure to lock up your checkbook, account statements and other sensitive information when others will be in your home. 
7) Pay with checks and credit cards instead of cash to keep a paper trail. 
8) Shred receipts, bank statements and unused credit card offers before throwing them away.
9) Lock up your checkbook, account statements and other sensitive information when others will be in your home.
10) Order copies of your credit report once a year to ensure accuracy.

You have the right not to be threatened or intimidated. If you believe you are a victim of elder financial abuse, contact your local Adult Protective Services, tell someone at your bank or call your local police for help. World Elder Abuse Awareness Day was launched on June 15, 2006 by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations.