Recognize. React. Report. Caregivers help protect against financial exploitation

July 17, 2020

Learn how to defend the person you are caring for from potential financial scams.

 

When you are caring for someone, you have a responsibility to protect their interests. To shield them from financial fraud, you can assist in monitoring their financials and account activity. And in the case that they are targeted, you can work with the authorities and other entities to report their case.

 

Recognize: Your important role

As a financial caregiver, you have great responsibilities, whether you are actively managing accounts or just keeping a watchful eye.

The financial caregiver’s relationship often evolves as needs change:

  • Initially, responsibilities may include reviewing accounts or giving assistance with everyday financial matters. 
  • Responsibilities may increase if the person you are helping becomes ill or injured or has trouble managing money.
     

You are an important line of defense. As a trusted caregiver, you have a duty to act in the person’s best interest and can help detect potential fraud!

 

React: Build your knowledge and defenses

Be proactive:

  • Have periodic and open conversations about financial matters with the person you are helping.
  • Assist in setting up account alerts.
  • Help organize and store important documents in a safe but easily accessible location.
  • Carefully consider who has access to the person’s accounts.
  • Consider setting up a legal document clearly defining your duties, such as a Power of Attorney or Guardianship, and understand the responsibilities associated with that role.
  • Understand the risks of sharing access to accounts (joint ownership, sharing login credentials and sharing credit/debit cards can put both parties at risk and make it easier to be victimized).
  • Learn about common financial exploitation schemes and ploys.
  • Review options with financial institutions to help protect the person’s accounts.
     

Avoid financial exploitation:

  • If a previously uninvolved relative, caregiver or friend begins conducting financial transactions.
  • If there are abrupt changes in financial documents, such as a new power of attorney, a change to a joint account or a change in beneficiaries.
  • If there are transaction pattern changes, such as gaps in check numbers, increases in cash withdrawals, atypical ATM withdrawals or new spending patterns.
  • If there are uncharacteristic non-sufficient funds activity, overdrafts or lapses in bill payments.
  • If there are uncharacteristic requests to wire or send money.

 

Report: Who to contact

  • The police: Request a copy of the police report and case number.
  • U.S. Bank Fraud Liaison Center at 877-595-6256 (for U.S. Bank accounts).
  • Any of the three credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion, to place a “fraud alert” on your credit file.
  • Your bank and/or credit card company.
  • Adult Protective Services (county or state).
  • The Federal Trade Commission's identity theft website or by calling 877-ID-THEFT (877-438-4338).
  • You can also find contact information at eldercare.gov or by calling 800-677-1116.

 

Learn more about how to protect against financial fraud.

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