You, or someone you know, could become the victim of financial abuse. This crime deprives older adults of their resources and ultimately their independence. Advances in technology have made it difficult for seniors to know who to trust and what’s safe.
Despite these threats, taking simple steps to safeguard personal information and being aware of warning signs can protect aging men and women from financial abuse.
Tips for Seniors:
- Plan ahead to protect your assets and to ensure your wishes are followed. Talk to someone at your financial institution, an attorney, or financial advisor about the best options for you.
- Shred receipts, bank statements and unused credit card offers before throwing them away.
- Order copies of your credit report once a year to ensure accuracy.
- Never give personal information, including Social Security Number, account number or other financial information to anyone over the phone unless you initiated the call and the other party is trusted.
- Get to know your banker and build a relationship with the people who handle your finances. They can look out for any suspicious activity related to your account.
- Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, it may not be right. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Warning signs for family and friends:
- Unusual activity in an older person’s bank accounts, including large, frequent or unexplained withdrawals.
- ATM withdrawals by an older person who has never used a debit or ATM card.
- New “best friends” accompanying an older person to the bank.
- Suspicious signatures on checks, or outright forgery.
- Bank statements that no longer go to the customer’s home.
- A caretaker, relative or friend who suddenly begins conducting financial transactions on behalf of an older person without proper documentation.
What should you do if you suspect financial abuse?
- Talk to elderly friends or loved ones if you see any of the signs mentioned here. Try to determine what is happening with their financial situation, such as a new person “helping” them with money management, or a relative using cards or credit without their permission.
- Report the elder financial abuse to their bank, and enlist their banker’s help to stop it and prevent its recurrence.
- Contact Adult Protective Services in your town or state for help.
- Report all instances of elder financial abuse to your local police—if fraud is involved, they should investigate.
To further educate yourself on the signs of financial elder abuse, please visit a Franklin Savings Bank office near you or give us a call at 1.800.372.4445.
Source: American Bankers Association