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Thursday, May 30, 2024

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Preventing Elder Financial Exploitation: 5 Essential Steps

Preventing Elder Financial Exploitation: 5 Essential Steps

By Amanda Malkowski, VP Retail Banking Coordinator at Crest Savings Bank

Financial exploitation of older adults is a widespread issue, often committed by individuals they know and trust. According to an analysis from AARP, over 369,000 incidents of financial abuse targeting seniors are reported annually in the U.S., with an estimated $4.8 billion in losses. However, experts believe that these numbers significantly underestimate the problem. To safeguard vulnerable loved ones, consider the following preventive measures:

1. Designate a Trusted Financial Power of Attorney

Choose a trusted individual to serve as your financial power of attorney. This person will make financial choices for you should you become unable to do so. Tailor the responsibilities to suit your requirements, possibly with legal guidance, ensuring clarity for financial management or specific duties such as tax filing or property oversight.

2. Appoint a Trusted Contact for Finances

Consider providing limited access to a trusted party, enabling them to monitor transactions without direct fund access. Authorize your financial institutions to communicate with them concerning any suspicious activity on your account. Refrain from adding individuals to your bank account or property title, as joint ownership may result in unforeseen outcomes after your passing.

3. Utilize Account Tracking Services

Awareness is a powerful tool in preventing exploitation. Enroll in services that monitor your bank accounts, investments, and credit cards. Consistent monitoring helps to identify any changes or inconsistencies and enables prompt reporting as they arise.

4. Stay Connected

Keep lines of communication open with elderly family members. Increased isolation heightens vulnerability, so prioritize staying connected. Regular conversations enable you to gauge their financial health and pinpoint any warning signs. Encourage them to express any concerns or unusual financial experiences they may encounter.

5. Understand Your Loved One’s Caregivers

Get to know the caregivers involved in your loved one’s life. Whether they’re family members, professional aides, or volunteers, ensure they prioritize your loved one’s well-being. Stay vigilant and promptly address any suspicions you may have. Remember, prevention begins with awareness and taking proactive measures.

Implementing these strategies, can collectively combat elder financial exploitation and protect our older adults from theft and fraud. Let’s prioritize their financial security and well-being.

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