Financial abuse is on the rise in America. While none of us want to believe that a loved one would betray us, it happens all too often. We’ve seen more criminal cases in the last year surrounding elder financial abuse than most other financial crimes. One of the reasons is that 70% of the wealth in the United States. What’s worse, is that this form of abuse reached $2.9 billion last year alone.
But why is elder abuse a problem? It’s because of what it takes from the victim. While the financial loss is obvious, there are things like the loss of independence, trust, and a fear of the unknown that the victims experience. It’s because of this that we must do all we can to safeguard our finances and protect ourselves and our friends of the dangers that are out there. Especially if we suspect they are victims of financial abuse.
What are the Best Tips for Seniors to Protect Themselves?
- Plan out your assets to ensure that things are protected. It can be a smart idea to place a trusted individual like an attorney or a financial advisor over your funds to ensure that you aren’t as easily scammed.
- Never throw away bank statements and credit cards you aren’t using. Instead, make it a point to shred them. That way, you don’t have to worry about any issues coming up.
- Make sure you only allow trusted individuals you’ve known for long periods of time to help you with major financial decisions. Then ensure you still run these ideas past your attorney or financial advisor to avoid becoming a victim.
- Never provide anyone with access to your checkbook, account statements, and other financial information to avoid being a victim of fraud.
- Make sure you check your credit report at least once a year to avoid any potential problems from becoming an issue.
- Never provide anyone with your social security number or other financial information unless you know who they are and you initiated the phone call.
- There is never a time when you have to pay to collect lottery winnings or inheritances or other financial benefits in advanced. These are taxed and then the post tax amount is disbursed to you.
- Always allow time to pass for a financial decision. Nothing requires immediate attention.
- Pay with checks or credit cards when possible so you can keep track of what is being spent, rather than using cash.
- Check references on anyone who is set to perform work for you, and have a financial advisor review documents that you are agreeing to.
- You cannot go to jail for an unpaid debt and social security doesn’t call to get repayments from you over the phone.
- You have the right to say no to anything you don’t feel comfortable with.
- Adult protective services will help you if someone is threatening or intimidating you for money.
If you do these simple things, you will protect your finances. Make sure you always speak with people with your best interest at heart if you worry you’re are a victim of financial abuse and seek legal recourse. That way, you continue to prevent others from potentially being a victim of this form of fraud.