As financial advisors, one area that we are well versed in is protecting our clients from financial fraud. Although everyone is susceptible to falling victim to fraud, seniors tend to be the group that is targeted most frequently. Therefore, in observance of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15th, we will focus on one area of elder abuse: financial exploitation.
In Michigan, financial exploitation is defined as an action involving the misuse of an adult’s funds, property, or personal dignity by another person.* Seniors tend to be one of the most targeted groups for financial exploitation. Innovative technology, and the problems that come with it, can often lead to confusion and identity theft or scams. Diminishing health can complicate matters. Over 40% of people over 65 have some type of disability, often limiting mental capacity. Fourteen percent of seniors in this age range are not able to live independently.** The special circumstances surrounding seniors’ lives most definitely contribute to their vulnerability.
Thankfully, there are many ways seniors can mitigate their chances of financial exploitation. Here are a few pointers:
- Beware of scams! The senior population is targeted specifically by many phone scams aiming to gain personal or financial information from the victim. A couple of very common scams include sweepstakes or lottery winnings and calls claiming someone used your financial accounts. Never give any confidential information out over the phone.
- Seniors are an easy target for theft of cash and other tangible items of value. Keep your cash and valuables locked up if you happen to have home assistance such as a cleaning person, a medical aide, or if you reside in an assisted living facility or nursing home. Also, use checks and credit cards instead of cash in order to keep better track of where your money goes.
- Make sure you take the time to secure any computers used and educate yourself on cybersecurity. Protecting your computer properly with appropriate security software will prevent cybersecurity fraud. Be aware of what phishing scams look like. These are generally emails that attempt to mimic well-known sources in order to trick you into giving your personal information out to hackers. Educate yourself and make sure you are not falling for any attempts to gain your personal information online.
- Check credit reports annually to identify any inaccuracies and potential identity fraud.
- Add a trusted contact to all of your financial accounts. A trusted contact is a person that your financial institution can contact in the event of suspicious activity or other concerns. A trusted contact is not able to make transactions in your account, but is suggested by financial institutions as a way to help combat financial exploitation.
- Provide a comprehensive list of all your financial information to a trusted person. Here at FSG, we created our Loved Ones Brochure specifically for this purpose. Please contact us for a copy.
- Plan for incapacitation by visiting an estate planning attorney. You may find creating a trust or will will suit your needs in this state of life. We work with several estate planning attorneys here at FSG. Reach out to your advisor for suggestions on a firm to work with if you think this may benefit you.
After a long working life, your golden years should be some of the most beautiful, relaxing, and reflective years of your life. But unfortunately, they can be met with a unique set of financial challenges. As always, if there is anything we can do to help you on your journey, feel free to reach out to us at FSG.
*Source, Michigan Legislature, MCL 400.11
**Source, US Census Bureau American Community Survey, 2020
This commentary on this website reflects the personal opinions, viewpoints, and analyses of the Financial Strategies Group, Inc employees providing such comments, and should not be regarded as a description of advisory services provided by Financial Strategies Group, Inc or performance returns of any Financial Strategies Group, Inc Investments client. The views reflected in the commentary are subject to change at any time without notice. Nothing on this website constitutes investment advice, performance data or any recommendation that any particular security, portfolio of securities, transaction or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. Any mention of a particular security and related performance data is not a recommendation to buy or sell that security. Financial Strategies Group, Inc manages its clients’ accounts using a variety of investment techniques and strategies, which are not necessarily discussed in the commentary. Investments in securities involve the risk of loss. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.
Written by: Kristin Prieur