Financial Abuse

Prevent Elder Fraud by Getting Rid of Junk Mail

Thieving fraudsters are making a business of taking advantage of older adults. Almost 4 in 10 seniors are affected, losing over $3.6 billion each year.

And this isn’t only happening to the very old or those with Alzheimer’s or dementia – younger, more educated seniors are actually losing more money.

Did you know that the amount of junk mail your older adult receives is a sign of their fraud risk?

Getting rid of junk mail might seem like a lot of work, but it’s well worth it if it protects your older adult from losing their life savings to fraud.

  • Shred those pre-approved credit card applications

Putting a stop to the junk mail being sent to your older adult’s house is essential for reducing their fraud risk.

  • Have sign on the mailbox “No junk mail or flyers”.
  • If mail delivered to a superbox or bank of mailboxes in a building, have the postal carrier put a sticker in your slot indicating “No junk mail or flyers”.

It also reduces the risk that someone with early dementia would repeatedly donate to multiple charities, sign up for many credit cards, or spend an excessive amount on catalog purchases.

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Financial Vulnerability

Age-Associated Financial Vulnerability

We spend millions of dollars annually in the pursuit of longevity. Inevitably, one day we realize that something has changed. We are still the same person, with the same passions and values, but some of our abilities have started to wane.

Cognitive decline is the most significant factor in becoming financially vulnerable. Dr. Mark Lachs of Weill Cornell Medical College and Duke Han of Rush University Medical Center have termed the set of behaviors that lead to poor financial decision-making “Age-Associated Financial Vulnerability”. The reasons for it can vary from lack of sleep to medication changes to changes in the brain. Often, adverse financial behaviors are the first sign that a change has occurred.

Not everyone is proficient at managing money even when they are young. It is important to notice changes from normal, and not just normal mistakes.

Indicators of Vulnerability

  1. Late charges on billing statements. This is significant if you have always paid bills on time throughout your life. It can become challenging to remember and anticipate, especially quarterly and annual bills. Sometimes you just lose focus and fail to organize paperwork so bills don’t get lost.
  2. Calls from creditors. Again, if you have been in debt your whole life this is probably nothing new, but if it begins in later years, it can be a warning sign. Spending money without managing the timing of income and expenses can be catastrophic. If maintaining a chequebook or money management software has become a challenge, then you may need help to reconcile your accounts and know if you can spend a given amount of money.
  3. Donations to many charities. Retirement for some is a time to be generous and philanthropic but if you look back through your chequebook and find numerous donations, usually in small amounts, to a wide variety of charitable organizations then either learn to say no or consider getting some help to manage your money. Charities and scammers who receive small amounts are more likely to sell your name to a list. Then you become vulnerable to all kinds of ploys to get your money.
  4. Undeposited cheques. If you are losing track of cheques and needing to have them re-issued, this can also be a sign that you are vulnerable to the unscrupulous and could become a victim of abuse.
  5. Scam victim. Once you become a victim of a scam or fraud, the likelihood of reoccurrence is high, even if the original loss was nominal. The 2015 True Link study found that those who lost just $20 in one year could be expected to lose $2000 annually.

The same study found that those who are outgoing lose four times as much as older introverts. Financially sophisticated seniors lose more to fraud, probably because they move more money around. Thrifty seniors lose 5 times as much to fraud because they are enticed by bargains and don’t know how to check on the validity of an offer.

If you feel that you or a loved one need a little polish to keep your finances shining, you do not need to go it alone. Contact us and we will assist you with obtaining Peace of Mind around your day to day financial affairs.

SOURCES: “Age-Associated Financial Vulnerability”, Annals of Internal Medicine, Dec. 2015 and the True Link Report on Elder Financial Abuse, 2015.

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Elder Financial Abuse

Elder Financial Abuse

How Safe Are Your Parents from Elder Financial Abuse?

Check out this article on Elder Financial Abuse. It highlights the following topics:

  • Senior Financial Abuse
  • Protecting Yourself From Scams by Trusted Family Members & Friends
  • Protecting Yourself from Financial Abuse
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