According to Consumer Reports, seniors and their loved ones lose billions of dollars to fraudsters every year, typically through phone scams that take advantage of a senior’s isolation. Staying involved in the community, advises the nonprofit organization, is key to preventing elder financial abuse.
Consumer Reports also suggests the following tips:
Sign up for Nomorobo, a free service available to customers with VoIP service with select providers. Consider a white list call blocker device, which blocks numbers that are not programmed into it. And, if someone from an unknown number calls, don’t press to connect to a representative – just hang up. Responding to a call demonstrates a live person is there, which can generate more calls. Also, sign up for the National Do Not Call Registry (donotcall.gov or 888-382-1222); it won’t prevent crooks from calling, but it will limit legitimate marketing calls.
Have someone help pay the bills.
Create a shared bank account with a trusted friend or family member. Arrange to transfer only enough money each month to pay the bills. Get to know the officers and tellers at the local bank or credit union; they may raise a flag if they notice suspicious activity on an account.
Arrange for limited account oversight
. Some financial institutions will send statements and alerts to a trusted person who has no direct access to a senior’s account but can check for suspected fraud. EverSafe is a paid, Web-based service that consolidates all accounts in one place and checks for suspicious activity daily. Someone else can receive the online statements without having access to the accounts that are being monitored.
Vet all contractors and financial advisors’ credentials.
For contractors, check with the state licensing board and the local Better Business Bureau. Ask for proof of insurance and bonding. Don’t pay in full up front. For financial advisors, check brokercheck.finra.org to find regulatory actions, violations, or complaints.
Set up an emergency plan.
Temporary hospitalization or permanent incapacity are just two reasons someone may not be able to control his or her own finances. Give power of attorney to someone trusted and financially secure. The power-of-attorney document can be drawn up with limits, such as assigning a relative or friend to monitor the person with power of attorney; mandating a periodic written report of financial transactions; or assigning joint powers of attorney, which requires two signatures on every check.
Source: Consumer Reports
Published with permission from RISMedia.