Financial safety for older people

Everywhere you turn, it seems, there is a story in the newspaper, on the TV news or via a social media site like Facebook about an older person getting scammed. There are so many cases of fraud out there, from the grandparent scam to cemetery and mortuary scams.

Federal authorities have grown increasingly concerned about elderly men and women falling victim to scams. Statistics show millions have been lost every year, especially with the rise of the internet and social media.

The FDIC says people should look for red flags to protect themselves from con artists. Warning signs include:

  • An unsolicited phone call, email or other request that you pay a large amount of money before receiving the goods or services.
  • An unexpected e-mail or call requesting your bank account number, perhaps one asking you for the information printed at the bottom of one of your checks.
  • An offer that seems too good to be true, like an investment “guaranteeing” a return that’s way above the competition.
  • Someone expressing a new or unusual interest in your finances.
  • Pressure to send funds quickly by wire transfer.
  • The other party insists on secrecy.

Authorities remind elderly citizens to never, ever provide Social Security numbers, bank account information, PINs, passwords and other sensitive information in response to an unsolicited call, fax, letter, email or text message, no matter how genuine the situation may appear. Sign up for direct deposit of Social Security and retirement checks. An out-of-the-blue letter from the Social Security Administration or another agency indicating your direct deposit information has been changed is a sure sign of a scammer in action.

FDIC officials say families should also remember to research everyone who has access to an older person’s finances, including a financial advisor. Closely monitor credit card bills and bank statements. Having a power of attorney in place can help protect men and women from being victims of scammers. That person should be an adult son or daughter, or someone else who can be trusted with everything that involves money, investments, bills, bank accounts and the estate.

Our experienced and trusted estate planning attorneys have been serving Treasure Coast families for decades, and Michael Fowler is one of only nine attorneys in the state of Florida who is double board-certified in wills trusts and estates and in elder law.  Contact us for your initial consultation at one of our conveniently located offices in Fort Pierce, Stuart, Port St. Lucie, Vero Beach, and Okeechobee.

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