Enjoying A Safe Holiday Season
The following is a compilation of a few previous posts about protecting older individuals (and yourself!) from fraud and financial exploitation.
FRAUD AND THE HOLIDAYS. Over the holidays it requires even more diligence to avoid scams and frauds. The people who prey on older Americans are indeed very busy during the holiday season.
Remind loved ones to never give private information over the telephone. When in doubt about the identity of a caller…Stop talking and just hang up.
PROBATE IS PUBLIC. Those who have filed their own probate documents often receive a preponderance of telephone calls. Remember, that the probate process and many details are public information. There are individuals who make a career of researching probate documents, which often contain contact information of a bereaved relative. Be aware that probate is a very public process and use extra care, during and after the probate process, particularly if you have handled probate yourself and not through a lawyer’s office.
THE CFPB. In a previous post titled Another Person’s Money (see my website archive) I briefly touched upon the issue of handling the finances of someone else and mentioned the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (www.cfpb.gov) According to their website, the CFPB Office for Older Americans “is the only federal office dedicated to the financial health of Americans age 62 and over.”
Their website offers a 40 page manual titled: Protecting residents form financial exploitation, A manual for assisted living and nursing facilities. It gives a detailed analysis of financial exploitation in care facilities along with some disturbing examples and is also a helpful guide for the facilities.
Although written specifically for assisted living and nursing home workers/staff/administrators, the manual is an excellent source for those who manage the finances of an elderly individual.
UNWANTED CALLS. We have all had them. The telephone call early in the morning or in the middle of the dinner hour, offering anything from aluminum siding”surveys”; to “credit repair” or bank account “insurance”. Despite the No Call Registry, caller ID and more robust mechanisms for defeating them, it appears that telephone solicitors manage to find their way into our homes. One difference is that now their offers are more usually coached in terms of a “survey”. Seniors may tend to be more polite about these intrusions. By coaching them to realize that it is OK to “Just hang up” – they can avoid serious problems. This is particularly true of solicitors who are requesting money in the name of a charity.
VULNERABILITY. There are frequent articles that suggest that the older population is more vulnerable to fraud, via telephone or online. The reasons offered: that there is diminished “thinking”; or sheer loneliness (elderly are more likely to continue a conversation, just to hear a friendly voice). Perhaps they are not as wary of the technology of the internet as they should be? Then there is the idea that the elderly become a bit naïve or are not as aware of the possibilities of what a scammer can accomplish with just a bit of additional information (such as date of birth or the name of our bank). Protect your loved one (and yourself) by never offering personal information over the telephone and limit your internet usage to secure sites.
Enjoy a safe and secure holiday season.
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