Stoked by the Pandemic, It’s a New Age of Elder Financial Abuse
An estimated five million older Americans are abused every year, contributing to a 300% higher risk of death. Financial abuse is one of the most common forms, costing older American $2.6 to $36.5 billion annually, as well as their dignity and security.
In June, we observed Elder Abuse Awareness Month, conducting a webinar for financial professionals to better support and protect and their older clients. Howard Tischler and Liz Loewy, co-founders of EverSafe, shared their expertise on how this alarming form of abuse has evolved and what older Americans can do to protect themselves and their loved ones.
Keeping a watchful eye
Elder financial abuse is happening all around you — and it’s not always a stranger who’s after your savings, according to Tischler and Loewy. So who are the exploiters?
- Relatives. Don’t assume that just because someone is a family member, they have your best interests at heart.
- New companions. It’s easy for strangers to step in and forge a friendship for their own financial gain.
- Caregivers. You trust caregivers, hiring them to care for yourself or your loved ones. But trust your instincts if something seems amiss.
- Financial professionals. The people who handle your financial matters could be the ones mishandling them, including fiduciaries and powers of attorney.
READ MORE: Combating Elder Financial Abuse: Top 6 Red Flags
What to look for in the post-pandemic world
Elder financial abuse can take on many forms to gain control of an older adult’s property or funds. Fraudsters have viewed the pandemic as an opportunity for exploitation. Scams carried out online and by phone have grown increasingly sophisticated. According to Tischler, new scandalous texting tactics include:
- Contact tracing – Under the guise of scaring individuals with possible COVID-19 exposure, scammers ask for personal information to complete the tracing.
- Vaccine availability – This scam requests the victim’s personal information in order to schedule their next vaccine appointment.
- Fake results – Victims are texted fake medical test results and are fooled into clicking on a fraudulent link to learn more.
As Loewy reminds us, “The pandemic isn’t over, especially not for individuals and people with health issues. People are still scared and isolated.” And this can be the perfect storm for even more phishing scams.
Aging with your money and dignity intact
Think you or your loved ones are at risk? Here are some easy steps you can take to mitigate financial elder financial abuse:
- Educate. Be aware of the scams you and your family members are vulnerable to and where to turn for help.
- Practice caution. Be wary of calls, texts and emails that request personal and account information. Report suspicious activities to the Federal Trade Commission.
- Utilize technology. Thanks to modern technology, you can help yourself or your loved ones bank from home, setting up automated deposits of Social Security or dividend checks, sending withdrawal alerts and reminders when payments are due.
- Become a guardian or appoint one. A trusted fiduciary can make all financial decisions when you or your loved one are unable to do so. Consult with an attorney for the legalities of this role.
- Protect your financial assets. If you’re an older homeowner and looking to establish more financial security, a reverse mortgage loan can offer a valuable safety net that you can count on during retirement. This type of loan allows you to leverage your home equity as you continue to live in and own your home. You can access the funds as a lump-sum payment, a monthly payment or a line of credit* — so the money is available when and how you need it.
To learn more, call Reverse Mortgage Funding, LLC (RMF) at (888) 277-1567. A local loan specialist will answer your questions about using this valuable tool for financial security and peace of mind.
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 4.5-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.
*Borrowers who elect a fixed rate loan will receive a single disbursement lump sum payment. Other payment options are available only for adjustable rate mortgages. In certain states, RMF’s Equity Elite loan provides a fixed-rate term payment option.