“A new survey of caregivers by Allianz Life finds that 37% of seniors have suffered financial abuse. Such abuse can take the form of telemarketing scams, pressure to sign a will, or an empty promise to provide care in exchange for property. Victims of elder financial abuse lose an average of about $36,000, often to their own family members.”
Megan Leonhardt, “Self-Defense Can Ward Off Senior Financial Abuse,” Money Magazine, January/February 2017
The Takeway: Here’s the kicker. Seniors suffering from some level of cognitive decline are much more likely to be taken advantage of financially, says the Allianz survey.
That’s why it’s so important to line up help in managing your finances before you need it and before it’s a crisis. Even people who have handled their finances for years start losing some abilities as they age, and that opens the door to fraud or mismanagement.
Here’s some great tips on how to protect yourself or a family member from Allianz, author of the Safeguarding Our Seniors study:
- Plan ahead to protect your assets and ensure that your wishes are followed.
- Consult with a licensed financial advisor or attorney before signing complex agreements or anything you don’t understand.
- Build relationships with professionals who are involved with your finances – they can assist in monitoring for suspicious activity.
- Limit your use of cash – using checks and credit cards leaves a paper trail.
- Trust your instincts and feel free to say “no.” Remember, it’s your money.