The unfortunate reality is that there are many people out there that would love nothing more than to rip you or your elderly loved ones off. The good news is that there are simple, practical ways to defend against financial exploitation.
This blog entry is the first in a series designed to provide you with practical advice on this important topic. The first blog post will cover the first three of ten things to do.
No. 1: Get and stay educated. Fraudsters and scam artists are always improving their techniques and creating new and innovative methods to trick and confuse elders into costly financial losses. That means you cannot afford to sit on your laurels. Read up on this subject routinely (at least once a month) and keep abreast of new developments and make sure your elderly loved ones are kept informed and aware of scam warning signs.
No. 2: Protect the secrecy of personal information at all costs. This includes social security numbers, driver's license numbers, bank account numbers, login and password information, and dates of birth. Leaving these out in the open (i,.e., written down, but not locked away) is a perfect opportunity for hired help, third-party caregivers and even family members to steal your identity, take out credit in your name, and even take your hard earned assets.
No. 3: Never sign any agreement unless you fully understand exactly what it provides. If you need assistance, retain a reliable, well rated and independent attorney to review the agreement and advise you. Avoid the pitfall of being penny wise and pound foolish.
Even if you're on a fixed budget and cannot afford to retain a lawyer, research free (or discounted) legal services online. One California legal assistance directory to start with can be found at http://lawhelpca.org/find-legal-help . One of many reliable free or reduced rate legal aid foundations for those who cannot afford to retain an attorney themselves is Bet Tzedek.
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