Seniors are increasingly becoming targets for financial abuse. As people over 50 years old control over 70 percent of the nation's wealth, fraudsters are using new tactics to take advantage of retiring baby boomers and the growing number of older Americans. Senior financial abuse is estimated to have cost victims at least $2.9 billion last year alone.
Older Americans that may have disabilities or rely on others for help can be susceptible to scams and other fraud. Advances in technology can also make it difficult for seniors to know who to trust and what's safe.
Despite these threats, being aware of warning signs and taking simple steps to safeguard personal information can protect aging men and women from financial abuse.
Tips for Seniors: What should you do to protect yourself?
- Shred receipts, bank statements and unused credit card offers before throwing them away
- Carefully choose a trustworthy person to act as your agent in all estate-planning matters
- Never give your Social Security number, account numbers or other personal financial information over the phone unless you initiated the call
- Lock up your checkbook, account statements and other sensitive information when others will be in your home
- Order copies of your credit report once a year to ensure accuracy
Tips for Family and Friends: What are the warning signs of financial abuse?
Suspicious signatures on checks and bank statements
New "best friends" that want to accompany the senior to the bank
Bank statements that no longer go to the senior's home
Sudden non-sufficient fund activity or unpaid bills
Sudden unexplained changes to the powers of attorney or wills
Tips for Investigating Financial Abuse: What should you do?
- Try to identify the source of the abuse
- Report the suspected abuse to the bank and enlist their help in fixing and preventing fraud
- Contact the local police to investigate for fraud and other abuse
- Contact Adult Protective Services in your town or state to report the problem