Protect Your Family from Fraud and Financial Exploitation

August 9, 2022

Every year, almost a half a million incidents of financial abuse targeting older adults are reported in the U.S. It’s estimated to cause $4.8 billion in losses, and it may be even higher as many incidents go unreported. But it’s possible in most cases to be prevented before it starts. Here are some steps to take to protect yourself or a loved one from financial exploitation.

  1. Designate someone you trust as your Financial Power of Attorney.

While you’re still able to make financial decisions, you’ll want to designate a person or persons for this responsibility. Choosing them to make financial decisions in your best interest requires trust. You can start this process early and talk through what your expectations are and what their role will be. Whether it’s banking, bill paying, filing taxes, managing properties, etc. Work with an attorney to draft out a Financial Power of Attorney that meets your needs.

  1. Begin a family conversation.

Personal finances can be tricky in family situations. Most people like to keep their finances private, and it can be a hard conversation to start. Simply making it a conversation and not a judgement is an easier way to begin. Instead of starting with “I need to know everything,” start with “what do you feel comfortable sharing or what can I help you with?”

  1. Sign up for Service that tracks bank accounts, investments and credit cards.

Services like Lifelock can monitor accounts and report suspicious activity. When it spots changes in spending patterns or unusual withdrawals it can notify you or your trusted contact about the suspicious activity. This service can also help recoup losses if you do fall victim to fraud.

  1. Get to know the Caregivers.

If you have in-home help for a loved one, strongly consider going through a bonded agency that screens its caregivers. Once hired, keep tabs on them, are they keeping them clean? Stocking the fridge with healthy choices? Giving meds regularly? Caregivers that know you’re paying attention are less likely to exploit your loved ones.

  1. Be aware of common scams.

There are several common scams that target older people. They include phone calls from the IRS (they will never call you); software technicians that say your computer is infected & for a small fee they can fix it; a once in a lifetime investment opportunity; or the worst one, they pretend to be a grandchild in trouble and need money fast. Have a plan in place for when your loved one gets calls like this. Talk about how you can help them navigate these situations.

Open communication is the best way to protect your loved ones. Taking an active interest in their lives and know what’s going on can go a long way in preventing fraud.

Unity has many different programs that can help support you or your loved ones. Please contact us at 800-990-9249 to learn about the many ways we can help support you.

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