Elder financial abuse can be a significant issue as you age. Nearly $37 billion is lost each year as a result of financial exploitation perpetrated against seniors, according to Bloomberg.
Financial exploitation is a form of abuse that involves the taking or misuse of an elderly person’s financial resources. The elderly person may put their trust in a family member or caregiver to help manage their money assuming that person has their best interests in mind.
In some cases, people become unwitting victims of the very people they trusted. Perpetrators tend to be families, friends, neighbors and caregivers. Examples of financial exploitation include:
And the Internet has created a whole new venue for exploitation. Business opportunities, online dating, chat rooms and online shopping are some of the platforms that other perpetrators utilize to exploit elderly individuals who might be isolated, lonely or just bored.
An awareness of the potential for financial exploitation is the first step. Here are some important measures older customers can take to prevent financial exploitation:
On a day-to-day basis, seniors who are capable should continue to write and sign their own checks, open and send their own mail and email, set up direct deposit for any payments received (like Social Security or annuity payouts), use voicemail to screen phone calls (as a way to avoid unwanted or deceptive solicitors) and do their best to keep track of all of their money and possessions. For couples, it is imperative that both be engaged in their financial planning and decision-making.
A trusted financial advisor, who is committed to serving your best interests, can also help the elderly make decisions and provide guidance for a time later in life when they may not be able to manage your finances alone.