Elder financial abuse is becoming an epidemic. True Link, a financial services firm focused on seniors, estimates that nearly one in four seniors are impacted by financial abuse. Forbes recently published an article online about the risk factors for elder financial abuse and how to prevent the abuse from happening. The top risk factors included were memory loss, solo financial decision making, and being extremely friendly. Additionally, most financial abuse is not an isolated incident but rather a progression. Forbes suggests the following to make sure that you and your loved ones do not become a victim of financial abuse:
- Never give out financial information, your Social Security number, or your Medicare number over the phone unless you initiated the call.
- Don’t respond to calls, letters or emails from “Medicare” officials. Medicare employees, and those of any legitimate business, will never ask for your full Social Security or Medicare number.
- Beware of pushy marketers–don’t hesitate to take down their contact information and do your due diligence. Just say no.
- Check the fine print when ordering products online or from TV ads. Many times the shipping and handling charges can be as much as the actual product you are ordering.
- Consult someone you trust if you’re feeling uncertain about requests for money or personal information. Don’t provide any personal information over the phone.
- Never send money today for the promise of more money later.
- Don’t sign on the dotted line for any complex investments you don’t understand.
- Don’t give away power of attorney to anyone unless family members and personal advisors such as lawyers, accountants and financial planners have reviewed the documents.
- There is no free lunch. If a firm invites you out to a meal, they want you to sign up for an investment, real estate or it’s a pure swindle.
- Avoid sweepstakes, “money claim” offers and pleas to help a relative in a foreign country. These are all scams.
- Use “caller ID” features on your phone. If it’s a toll-free number you don’t recognize, don’t pick it up.
Above all, Forbes advises to ignore ALL solicitations as the absolute best way to prevent financial abuse from occurring. It is of utmost importance that all family members and friends remain vigilant of the potential for elder financial abuse.