With telephone and online scams growing, protecting seniors from strangers is an ongoing concern. But that’s not the only thing to worry about, when it comes to financial scams.
Lucky is the senior who has more money than they need and can enjoy their later years in the company of family and friends without concern for their spending habits. But when someone who is barely getting by, is entrapped by the enticements of a scammer offering to make their hardship go away, it’s easy for a person with diminished executive functions to be taken in. Even worse, says The Motley Fool’s article, “Protect Your Elderly Loved Ones From Financial Abuse,” is the financial abuse from by a member of the family or an alleged new friend. Here’s what you need to know to protect someone you love:
Help your elderly loved ones get their estate plans in order while they still have the mental capacity to do so. This is critical. They should have a will, medical and durable powers of attorney, a living will and perhaps a living trust. Trying to create an estate plan after Alzheimer's or dementia has developed is difficult. You should arrange to have their estate planning attorney tell you if your elderly loved ones suddenly make major changes in their estate plans, like excluding children from their wills or naming new beneficiaries who you don’t know.
You can add yourself on as an interested party to their financial accounts. Therefore, if your senior is at the stage where they can’t understand their financial statements or manage their money, you can help them monitor their accounts by getting duplicate statements or having online access to their accounts. This lets you monitor for any signs of trouble—like unexplained withdrawals or a substantial shift in their portfolios that’s not in line with their risk tolerance or investment objectives. A durable power of attorney may be needed, if it’s apparent that you should assume control of management of their accounts.
If your elderly loved ones are protected from phone solicitors by the do-not-call list, then this decreases the chances of them falling prey to a scheme from a phone scammer.
Talk with your senior loved ones. This is the most common-sense action you can take to prevent elder financial abuse. If he or she is still able hold a conversation, then caution them regarding the dangers of telemarketers and scammers who will try to get their money. Warn them about promises of things that seem too good to be true or attempts to emotionally manipulate them into sending money. You can also check their credit reports to make sure they haven't fallen victim to identity theft.
The more involved you are with your aging parent or grandparent, the less likely that they will be scammed. One further point: have other family members involved with their lives on a regular basis. Isolation from the family makes any elderly person more vulnerable.
Reference: Motley Fool (February 15, 2017) “Protect Your Elderly Loved Ones From Financial Abuse”