4 Steps to Avoid Elder Financial Exploitation

A padlock sits on top of credit cards near a laptop, demonstrating security from elder financial exploitation.

Elder financial exploitation is a growing problem in the United States. According to the National Council on Aging, the total annual loss by victims of financial abuse is estimated to be at least $36.5 billion. The good news is that there are steps older adults and their loved ones can take to avoid elder financial exploitation. Keep reading to learn more.

Be wary of phone calls, emails, and other suspicious messages.

Financial scammers may call or email you, asking for information related to your bank or credit card accounts. They may even request payment directly and immediately, posing as a reputable organization or someone you know. As a rule, don’t give out sensitive information like passwords, PINs, account numbers, or your Social Security number over the phone or email. Don’t answer calls from numbers you don’t recognize, and don’t click on links in strange or unusual emails. Remember, anyone asking for money could be a scammer. Ask a trusted family member for a second opinion or go to your bank if you’re unsure.

Put it in writing.

Protect yourself and your rights with official documents such as a Power of Attorney. You can use this document to designate a trusted individual to handle your finances and property in the event that you are unable to. You can also reach out to your bank to appoint a trusted contact. A trusted contact can communicate with your bank on your behalf, and the bank may contact them if they notice suspicious activity. A trusted contact cannot withdraw money from your account.

Protect your documents.

Keep important financial, identification, and legal documents in a secure place such as a safe. This may include your checkbook, bank account statements, will, estate plan, and the aforementioned Power of Attorney. Don’t leave these documents or other papers with sensitive information on them out in the open, especially when other people are in your home. Shred any unneeded documents that may have important information on them, such as receipts or bank statements.

Ask for guidance.

You’re not alone. If you are confused or feel intimidated by someone, ask for help. Let multiple family members know of anything that seems suspicious or out of the ordinary. If you think someone may be trying to exploit you financially, even someone you thought you could trust, let others know. It’s always beneficial to get a second opinion. Finally, don’t make any financial decisions or sign any documents without fully understanding them. Consult with your attorney or bank representative if you are unsure of anything.

Trust Southview Senior Communities

Elder financial exploitation is a serious issue, but surrounding yourself with a community that cares can go a long way toward keeping you safe and secure. At Southview Senior Communities, we always have our residents’ best interests in mind. We are dedicated to providing a safe, comfortable living environment where help is always available. Schedule a tour at one of our 14 locations today to learn more.