NBSB’s Advice for Preventing Financial Abuse Among Elderly
Every year, millions of senior citizens become victims of financial fraud. In fact, studies show elder financial abuse costs seniors approximately $3+ billion annually. At NBSB, we urge our older community members and their trusted caregivers to be vigilant. It is of the utmost importance to safeguard all personal information and stay alert to the signs of financial abuse.
Some steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of financial abuse are:
Plan ahead. To protect your assets and ensure your wishes are followed be sure to make a plan. Speak with someone at your financial institution, an attorney or financial advisor about your best options.
Choose a trustworthy person. The person who acts as your agent in all estate-planning matters is an important choice and one that should be made with careful consideration.
Safeguard important items. Lock up your checkbook, account statements and other sensitive information when others will be in your home.
Never give out personal information. This means your social security number, account numbers, or other financial information.
Never rush into a financial decision. Ask for details in writing and get a second opinion before you make a decisions that will affect your finances.
Consult with a financial advisor or attorney before signing documents. It is always good practice to have a financial advisor or attorney look over any documents that require a signature.
Get to know your banker. Building a relationship with the people who handle your finances can be very beneficial. They can keep an eye out for any suspicious activity in your accounts and are always understanding when there are problems you need their help with.
Check references and credentials before hiring anyone. Now this doesn’t mean just employees but people such as handymen, plumbers, painters, electricians, etc. It’s important to make sure you work with trustworthy people. And remember to never allow workers to have access to your financial information.
Pay with checks and debit/credit cards. Paying for things with a check or debit/credit card instead of cash means there will be a paper trail of your purchases and activities. So, if you notice something out of the ordinary you’ll know right away.
You have the right to not be threatened or intimidated. If you think someone close to you is trying to take control of your finances, call your local Adult Protective Services or tell someone at your bank.
Furthermore, if you believe you are a victim of financial abuse, be sure to:
- Talk to a trusted family member who has your best interests at heart.
- Talk to your attorney, doctor or an officer at your bank.
- Contact Adult Protective Services in your state or your local police for help.
ACT FAST! If you think you are a victim of elder financial abuse or fraud you can visit North Brookfield Savings Bank’s comprehensive Security Center to report fraud or scams at https://www.northbrookfieldsavingsbank.com/report-fraud-and-scams/. You should contact your financial institutions immediately for help, in addition to the National Elder Fraud Hotline toll free number at 833-FRAUD-11 (833-372-8311) and the Mass.gov Elder Abuse Hotline at 1-800-922-2275.