Combating Elder Financial Abuse: The Top 6 Red Flags to Look For
According to the American Bankers Association, elder financial abuse cost victims an estimated $2.9 billion last year alone. Financial frauds, scams and theft continue to affect one in five older Americans, cheating them out of savings they’ve worked a lifetime to build and eroding their confidence and trust.
Studies show that these criminal acts can gravely impact an individual’s income, health and living options, relationships and self-worth. Fortunately, being aware of the warning signs can help you or a loved one safeguard your assets.
Watching for red flags
The following warning signs could be an indication that financial abuse is on the horizon — or already taking place.
- Unusual bank account activity. Unexplained check withdrawals, closing accounts without regard to penalties or attempting to wire large sums of money can all be signs that something is amiss. Don’t hesitate to step in and investigate if you feel a loved one may be victimized.
- Lack of knowledge about major financial issues. When an individual can’t remember making a withdrawal or signing a check, it may be more than just a minor lapse in recall. Even one-off issues should be looked into to make sure nobody’s being taken advantage of.
- Questionable home repairs or renovations. Physical limitations tend to come with age, and as a result, contractors and service providers are more likely to be invited into the home. But they don’t always have the best intentions. Unnecessary work or add-ons can result in massive home repair bills. To guard against contractor fraud, make sure a trusted friend or relative is present when a contract is on the table.
- New, unusually close companions. It’s easy to feel isolated without regular family visits — and easy for strangers to step in and forge a friendship for their own financial gain. Pay attention to new friends and relationships and trust your instincts when it comes to their character.
- Peculiar behavior of relatives. People who financially exploit retirees come from all backgrounds, and they may even be related. According a report in the New England Journal of Medicine, adult children or spouses are most likely to be perpetrators of elder fraud. They’re also more likely to be male, have a history of substance abuse, are afflicted with mental or physical health problems, and are socially isolated or unemployed. Don’t assume that just because someone is family member, they have everyone’s best interests at heart.
- Suspicious sweepstakes winning. If you or a loved one find yourself on the receiving end of a congratulatory phone call for a contest you never entered, don’t hesitate to hang up. Telemarketing scams are widely practiced, and retirees are their targets. To claim a prize, you may be asked to make a small payment or disclose banking information. Be wary, and never give out personal banking information over the phone or via email.
Smart financial moves for retirement security
When you have a solid financial plan in place, you can focus on what really matters: a happy and fulfilling retirement. A reverse mortgage from Reverse Mortgage Funding, LLC (RMF) is a tool that help can provide immediate cash flow from the equity you’ve built up in your home, keeping your retirement savings intact. It doesn’t require monthly mortgage payments, but just like with any other loan borrowers are obligated to pay their homeowners insurance and taxes, as well as home maintenance and upkeep.
To learn more about the benefits and limitations of a reverse mortgage — and whether one might be right for you — call RMF today at 888-277-1567. We’ll set up a convenient, in-person appointment with an experienced reverse mortgage specialist who’ll answer your questions and provide detailed information so you can evaluate your options.
This content is sponsored by RMF, one of the nation’s leading reverse mortgage lenders. We are dedicated to helping older Americans retire more freely, in the comfort of their own homes. As a result of our commitment to providing an extraordinary and positive customer experience, we have earned a 98% customer satisfaction rating;† a 5-star / Excellent score on Trustpilot; 4.8 out of 5 stars on LendingTree; and an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. Call 888-277-1567 to speak with a licensed reverse mortgage specialist to learn about our retirement financing products and solutions.
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If you have equity in your home and believe you meet the eligibility requirements, a reverse mortgage may be the option that could help you retire smart.
†Source: RMF customer survey 2018