Seniors are often victims of financial exploitation. They tend to have more assets than younger adults, but they also have the least amount of knowledge on how to properly manage and protect them, especially in a digitally-driven world. Financial abuse of seniors is a serious problem, and it includes acts that span from theft and credit misuse to fraud and manipulation for personal gain. To protect your finances as a senior, here are five things to remember.
Know Your Assets
You should be fully aware of what you own, how much it’s worth and what people stand to gain after your passing. If you have a life insurance policy, what is its death benefit, and what is its current cash value? If you realize that your life insurance costs too much or isn’t worth paying for anymore, you may consider selling it and using the money to care for yourself now.
You can financially benefit from a potential policy lapse by opting for a life settlement instead. The same principles apply to your credit cards, bank accounts, and other forms of investment. Speak to your attorney, estate planner, or professional accountant to ensure your assets are being properly managed and protected.
Properly Dispose Of Identifying Information
To prevent credit card or identity theft, make sure that you never throw away any financial documentation, including bills and receipts, that contain your personal details. Any paper containing your personal information, including your name, address, and date of birth, should be shredded or blacked out prior to being put in the trash. You should also make sure that your mailbox is secure as some people will prey on the elderly by collecting their information from their mailboxes. A simple lock will be enough to protect your mail.
Phone calls from marketers, debt collectors, or banks that ask for your personal information over the phone should be ignored. You will never be called by the IRS, your bank or another financial institution and be asked to provide your identifying details. Never give away your social security number, date of birth, or full name to someone over the phone. Avoid responding to emails that declare you to be the winner of a lottery or sweepstakes as well. These can look legitimate, but they are crafted by people who use these emails to collect people’s information.
Keep Your Cards And Checkbook Safe
Make sure that your bank cards, credit cards, and checkbooks are put away when people come to visit. Frequently check your bank statements and other accounts to ensure no one has been using your cards or accessing your accounts without permission. If you are worried that you are being used by a relative, caretaker, or another person in your life, there are options. You can contact Adult Protective Services in your state and explain the situation. If you are the victim of financial abuse or your finances are being controlled without your consent, you deserve help.
Only Let Trusted People Help You with Money Management
You should always be in control of your finances. What you buy, how your money is spent, and investments should always be cleared by you. No one, not even your child, is entitled to use your money or access your accounts without permission. Avoid letting other people offer help when they’re actually just using your money however they want. Real money management should always keep you included, and you should avoid ever giving personal access to your finances to anyone you don’t fully trust.
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