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When Moneygeek.com reached out for expert advice on how to prevent financial fraud as we age, I was eager to help with this important area of long life financial planning.
I discuss the common scams and types of financial exploitation that prey on older adults, and how unscrupulous relatives are in a position to take advantage of their older relatives. I also suggest steps to take to minimize risk.
The article can be found here and below I share highlights from it https://www.moneygeek.com/seniors/resources/elder-financial-abuse-prevention-guide/#expert=miriam-whiteley-cfp-rlp-ceft
Why are older adults vulnerable to financial exploitation?
The sad facts are that one out of every 20 older adults is a victim of financial exploitation (source: Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, part of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau).
Nearly half of these crimes are committed by someone the older adult knows and trusts, like a relative or caregiver.
Unscrupulous relatives use this closeness to their advantage because it is a deterrent. It is not uncommon for victims to fear retaliation if they tell someone, so they don’t come forward.
The unscrupulous relative is alert to cognitive issues impairing the victim’s ability to notice unusual activity in their accounts or exercise good judgment when a relative pressures them to pay for things.
The victim might be experiencing health issues that make it difficult to manage personal or household tasks and feel they are a burden to their caregivers.
The feelings of being overwhelmed and depressed can make them vulnerable to a relative who says they are just trying to help and looks the other way at signs that the help is not in the victim’s best interest.
What can you or your loved ones do to minimize the risk?
Pay attention. Some signs to watch for: sudden reluctance to discuss financial matters, atypical or unexplained withdrawals or wire transfers, utility or other bills going unpaid, new best friends or “sweethearts,” large or frequent “gifts” to caregivers or a sudden desire to change wills or other legacy plans.
Stay informed. Keep up to date on current scams and talk to your loved ones who might be vulnerable about how the fraudsters perpetrate their schemes.
Be proactive. Use a password manager and multi-factor authentication, don’t click links in emails or text messages, and block scam callers on cell phones are some steps to take to reduce risk.
See article for a resource to monitor credit cards and bank statements called Eversafe, and for more information and how to report suspected crimes.