Welcome back for Part 2 of the blog series: Top 10 Ways to Avoid Becoming a Victim of Elder Financial Exploitation. Without further adieu, let's jump right back in where we left off.
No. 4: Never allow anyone, including family members, caregivers or strangers, to rush you into any transaction. Insist that the person provide you with all relevant details in writing and for the opportunity to review and discuss the proposed transaction with trusted advisors (e.g., attorney, CPA, reliable and knowledgeable family member) before closing the deal. If the person persists and demands that you move quickly or refuses to provide written details for you to mull over at your leisure, this is a serious red flag warning of a potential fraud or scam in progress.
No. 5: This may seem obvious, but never let a stranger into your home. This includes door to door sales persons. In addition to the obvious risk of assault or robbery (which is admittedly rare), the problem with allowing strangers in is that you are risking two types of theft of your: (a) belongings or cash (moderate risk); and (b) personal and confidential information, including bank account statements, credit card information and identity information (e.g., social security number, driver's license number, date of birth). Most people, especially the elderly, feel safe in their own homes and fail to lock away valuables and confidential documents while they are present. Letting a stranger in is a perfect opportunity for that person to take a quick picture of an important document while you are distracted.
No. 6: Cultivate strong, healthy and appropriately open relationships with your personal banker, certified public accountant, attorney and reliable, trustworthy family members and also ingratiate yourself with your community and trusted family members. Why? First, studies show that financial exploitation is much more likely to happen to isolated, depressed and lonely elderly folks versus those who are socially well connected and active. Fraudsters target lonely elders and play on their need for attention to squeeze out assets for their own profit. Also, trusted advisors and family members can help watch out for your best interests and flag potential risks for you. Community, relationships and healthy social relationships with appropriate boundaries can go a long way to protecting you from exploitation.
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