In a new article on the financial website Market Watch, we read a shocking statistic: according to the AARP, the average older victim of financial scams and abuse loses over $120,000. Financial exploitation and deception robs senior Americans of some $3 billion every year. What’s even worse, because many scams go unreported, the real total is no doubt much higher.
If you’re personally involved in the lives of your aging parents, as many boomers are, you may be the first line of defense against the scams and rip-offs targeting the elderly. We encourage you to click here to read the Market Watch article. It not only sheds light on the scope of the problem, it also gives you helpful tips to make sure your parent’s bank is doing its job.
According to Market Watch, banks should be watching out for telltale signs that their senior customers might be victims of fraud. But according to a spokeswoman from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, financial institutions handle the issue very inconsistently. For that reason the Bureau recently issued guidelines to help banks and other financial institutions prevent and respond to elder financial abuse. This prevention can include steps as simple as training tellers to watch out for unusually large withdrawals by senior depositors, especially when their reasons for the big withdrawal don’t seem sound.
Market Watch also suggests relatives of seniors start asking questions to make sure their mom or dad’s bank is up to the task of protecting against scams. Start by visiting the bank and asking the manager what fraud protection is in place. (Taking Mom or Dad with you on this bank visit will help allay any privacy concerns the bank may have.) During this visit you can also find out what other types of safeguards might be available. In some locales, for instance, seniors can appoint a trusted family member and give the bank advanced permission to call that representative whenever fraud is suspected. This trusted adviser may even have permission to view account transactions, even if it’s not a joint account, to watch out for suspicious activity.
Of course, if you and Mom or Dad is ready for a joint account, you have several options available. Setting up some form of joint account may be advisable, even necessary, as your parents grows older and needs more assistance. But be ready for some pushback: as the Market Watch article points out, “older people can be resistant to the idea that they might need help with banking (or any other activity, for that matter).” You may need to tread lightly when broaching the subject of a joint account.
The bottom line for most seniors: it’s vital to protect one’s assets in retirement, starting with guarding against scams and fraud. This means adult children and financial institutions should be working aggressively with law enforcement to give seniors greater protection.
How about your own retirement plans? Do you have a blueprint in place to protect your financial independence as you age? Does your plan encompass your legal affairs, your family relationships and your housing choices? Here at Aging Options, we’ll work with you to develop a comprehensive LifePlan that covers all the facets of a fruitful future. Best of all, it doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, getting started is easy: it begins when you attend a free LifePlanning Seminar – an information-packed session that will get you started building a plan of your own.
To find out the location of a seminar near you, and to reserve your space, click on the Upcoming Events tab on this website. We would love to work with you to help you build a more secure future.
(originally reported at www.marketwatch.com)