Safe & Secure: Preventing Financial Exploitation of the Elderly
2/4/2019 1:35:30 PM
Financial Exploitation

When it comes to caring for the elderly, initial thoughts turn toward preventing physical and mental abuse. While shielding against those two forms of abuse is important, there’s another form of abuse that’s actually more prevalent. Recent studies show that financial exploitation of the aging population is a crime on the rise, with 90% of the perpetrators having a personal relationship with the victim.

Financial abuse or exploitation of the elderly is defined in the Older Americans Act of 2006 as: "The fraudulent or otherwise illegal, unauthorized, or improper act or process of an individual, including a caregiver or fiduciary, that uses the resources of an older individual for monetary or personal benefit, profit, or gain, or that results in depriving an older individual of rightful access to, or use of, benefits, resources, belongings, or assets.”

"Arming our customers and the public with the basic knowledge of how to combat financial exploitation is important,” says attorney La Koshia Roberts, Compliance and CRA Officer with Lakeside Bank. "If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.” 

There are steps you can take to ensure you or an elderly family member are protected against wrongdoing. By planning ahead, you can ensure that accounts and assets are protected. One key step you can take is establishing relationships with personnel at your bank. In today’s digital age, it’s so easy to complete transactions online but having face-to-face interaction with bank staff can help them get to know you and notice when something seems amiss. 

"Our staff is committed to protecting our customers,” Roberts says. "Not only does our institution provide resources, but our team is also trained in recognizing potential threats.” 

A power of attorney or durable power of attorney can help ensure your assets will be protected even if you become incapacitated. Be sure to assign this to a trusted friend, relative, or attorney. As an added layer of protection, put all financial instructions in writing and be as specific as possible. 

Other good financial practices include using direct deposit for any paychecks or other forms of income, signing your own checks, and not allowing anyone to put his name on your account without your consent. Even if a family member helps you handle your finances, there is no need to list him on your main account. Your bank can set up a separate account in both your names with automatic transfers of limited funds. 

As more people use the internet for every-day activities, including banking and shopping, there is greater potential for fraud. Seniors may be more vulnerable to scams and other fraudulent behavior because they often have the least experience with technology and the internet. It is common for criminals to use email phishing and phone calls to target seniors who may be more trusting and likely to divulge personal information. 

"Your bank generally will not ask you to confirm personal information via email or text message,” warns Roberts. "If you think a phone call, email or other alert is suspicious, contact your institution directly to confirm it’s valid.” 
You can never be too safe with your finances. When in doubt, always enlist a trusted and knowledgeable third party to review or handle documents. 

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Posted by: Taylor Trahan Henry | Submit comment | Tell a friend

Categories: Finances

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