Elder Financial Abuse – Helping Tips on Prevention, Warning Signs

A few months ago we shared some insight on the increased activity regarding elder financial abuse. The issue of elder financial abuse continues to be a prevalent problem as incidents of scams, forgeries, identity theft and other fraudulent tactics remain frequent and as harmful as ever.
 
The FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) recently came out with several tips to help seniors avoid becoming victims to elder financial abuse.
 

FDIC Tips

 
Keep Financial Records Organized
Make sure financial records are organized and be aware of how much money is in each account.
 
Talk to JBT or Other Trusted Financial Resources
The FDIC recommends talking to someone at your bank, an attorney or a financial advisor to discuss options to make sure your wishes for managing your money and property are followed in case you become incapacitated.
 
Share Financial Plans With Trustworthy Family Member or Friend
Carefully choose a trustworthy person to share your financial planning matters with so they can assist you with tracking your finances if you are unable to do so yourself.
 
Keep Sensitive Information Secure
It’s a good idea to lock up your checkbook, account statements, and other sensitive information.
 
Review Your Credit Report
Order copies of your credit report to review for suspicious activity. (You are entitled to a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus once every twelve months. To order your free annual reports, go to AnnualCreditReport.com or call toll- free 1-877-322-8228
 
Do NOT Provide Personal Information Over The Phone
Never provide personal information, including your Social Security number,account numbers, or other financial information to anyone over the phone unless you initiated the call.
 
Get Details in Writing Before Signing Anything
Ask for details in writing and get a second opinion from a financial advisor or attorney before signing any document you don’t understand.
 
Use Checks, Debit Cards & Credit Cards Instead of Cash
Pay with checks and credit cards instead of cash to have records of transactions
 

How Family & Friends Can Help Identify Elder Financial Abuse

Family and friends can also help by being aware of the many ways in which an older person may be financially exploited. There are many scams and frauds that attempt to get bank account information or Social Security numbers from the elderly to steal their identity or money. Be on the lookout for signs of possible financial abuse, including:
 
• Unexplained account withdrawals.
• Another individual unexpectedly
making financial decisions on the older
person’s behalf.
• Disappearance of funds or valuable
possessions.
• Unanticipated transfer of assets to
another individual.
• Sudden changes to a will or other
important financial documents.
• Suspicious signatures on checks.
 
If you suspect elder financial abuse, talk to the victim to determine what is happening and who is involved. For instance, you’ll want to know whether a new person in their life is helping them manage their money or a relative is using their credit card without permission. If financial abuse seems likely,
you may want to contact your state’s adult protective services and the local police for assistance. You should also contact any bank or other financial institution involved to notify them of the potential abuse, and they may be able to assist you. They may not be able to provide you with specific information about accounts or transactions due to privacy laws, but they have the ability to review information for potential abuse as well as the resources to report abuse.
 
Also be aware of consumer financial protection regulations that help protect funds withdrawn from an account without authorization. For example, most cases of fraud and identity theft are committed using
an access device, such as when an individual steals an older person’s debit card and PIN number to withdraw money from a checking account.
 
The Electronic Fund Transfer Act protects consumers from losses that may occur as a result of certain unauthorized electronic financial transactions, such as unauthorized ATM withdrawals and point-of-sale terminal transfers in stores. If a debit card or the card number is used to make anunauthorized withdrawal from a checking or savings account, you can minimize your losses by contacting your bank as soon as possible. Your maximum liability under Regulation E is $50 if you notify your bank within two business days after learning of the loss. Additionally, many credit card issuers have zero-liability policies, meaning that customers typically do not pay for unauthorized transactions, so contact your credit card issuer as soon as you discover any.
 
For more information on elder financial abuse, visit:
https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2015/08/
spotting-elder-financial-abuse

 
https://www.consumerfinance.gov/practitioner-resources/resources-for-older-adults/protecting-against-fraud/