How to Avoid Financial Exploitation
This could happen to you…
Bob, a successful businessman suffered a stroke at age 60. A little later he suffered another one.
After the second, one his two sons moved in to take care of him. And he did.
First, he convinced his parents to move to a place where the climate is warmer.
Second, forging his parents’ signature, he moved their financial statements to a P.O. box address and instructed their financial advisor to wire funds into the new bank account.
By the time they knew it, he had already stolen $3 million dollars from his own parents, forcing his mother to put his father in a nursing home as she could no longer take care of him.
This story might be disdainful, horrible, outrageous, or repulsive but similar stories are happening right now, worldwide, as you read this. You might even be the next victim of financial exploitation.
What is Financial Exploitation?
Financial exploitation is the misuse or taking of the assets of a vulnerable adult, often without his/her explicit knowledge or consent, for his personal benefit, depriving the victim of vital financial resources for his personal needs.of assets of a vulnerable adult for his/her own benefit.
It is a form of elderly abuse, and it is growing very rapidly.And this form of elderly abuse is growing exponentially.
What is appalling about financial exploitation is that 90% of the time, the culprits are people close to, or known by the victims, i.e., family members, caregivers, neighbors, friends, and acquaintances; even family doctors, lawyers, and pastors.
Financial exploitation comes in various forms or promises, i.e., lotteries and sweepstakes, home repairs, travel discounts, charity scams, bogus telegraphic transfers, and the victims are either deceived, threatened, or emotionally manipulated.deceit, threats and emotional manipulation of their intended victims.
The exact figures taken from senior citizens is unknown but in 2009, MetLife Mature Market Institute estimated it at close to $3 billion dollars a year.
Owing to the seriousness of the problem, in 2011 NAPSA (National Pension Scheme Authority) created the National Elder Financial Exploitation Advisory Board to increase awareness among elderly people against financial exploitation and to develop new strategies to address this growing problem.
How can you avoid financial exploitation:
While the initiative is good, it cannot totally eradicate the problem because seniors are generally wary about government interventions, and are hesitant to report their sad experience.
In fact, according to the APS (Association for Psychological Science), only one in nine seniors reports being abused, and only 1 in 20 reports any perceived financial exploitation in the past. being a victim of elderly abuse, and only 1 in 20 of any perceived financial exploitation in the past.
But if you want to minimize, if not end, this heartless crime, you must do your share in its prevention. You can do that with these easy tips.
1. Be aware of the risk factors:
Living alone or socially isolated and suffering from cognitive impairment are risk factors to financial exploitation.
To avoid being scammed, constantly connect with family, friends, neighbors or anybody who can help you decide matters financial in nature. Visit your doctor regularly so you can be assured of your overall physical and mental health condition.
Visit your doctor regularly so you can be certain of your overall physical and mental health condition.
2. Don’t be pressured into doing something you will regret:
Don’t be pressured into signing a document, buying something or donating to charity. Take your time; assess the pros and cons, and its cost/benefit relationship before doing something.parting with your money.
Consult a friend, a family member, or your friendly baker for their opinion. You might have missed something they won’t.a second opinion. They might see something you missed.
3. Don’t go into joint accounts:
Joint accounts give equal rights over an estate to the other party, creating the condition for financial exploitation.
Discuss with your bankerConsult concerning other options in managing your resources in case of incapacity or emergencies.with your banker about other options in getting assistance in managing your finances in case of incapacity.
4. Keep your home:
Don’t give up your rights to your home in exchange for a promise to care for you, or allow you to stay put.
Promises never last forever and you might end up in a shelter for the homeless when the romance sours.
5. Seek help:
Going at it alone makes you prone to financial exploitation. So consult with your bank, or hire a finance manager to help you.
They can assist you in making financial decisions; put in place checks and balances to help identify potential problems before they happen.
6. Don’t be too trusting:
Money is a very volatile and tempting issue and can turn lambs into wolves. So be very careful.
The people closest to you may be the same people to cause your financial ruin.
7. Set up a revocable trust:
Bob Mauterstock, an eldercare financial planning expert, says creating a revocable trust with a corporate trustee provides excellent financial protection for seniors
He said, “Corporate trustees are the most regulated financial entities in the business; they’re regulated by the OCC (Office of the Comptroller of the Currency), FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.), and the state banking commission.”
8. Execute a durable power of attorney:
A power of attorney is a legal document giving someone you choose the power to act on your behalf should you become physically or mentally incapacitated.
Caution: He must be a person you trust your life on because POA holder has unlimited access to your account.
Consult your lawyer before executing a POA, and insist on getting duplicates of any transaction, and duplicates of banking, investment or credit card statements to you, or your financial adviser.
Right after retirement, I invested a third of my retirement package in a lending business. I went into it after consulting with other retirees who already members – despite the warnings of friends in the banking sector.
Alas! My money was gone in less than three months. I was devasted. The owners couldn’t give us a plausible reason for its collapse, but that one of their partners absconded with the money.
It was humiliating and aggravating to see my hard-earned money evaporate before my eyes. That gave me a lesson never to trust anybody when it comes to money – my money.
Don’t let it happen to you. Be on the safe side of caution. Better lose some friends, or goodwill of some family members, rather than lose your life’s savings.
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