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Bank Safe: Protecting Older Adults

by Madelyn McConnell

As part of our #BankSafe series raising awareness on common types of fraud, this week we’re talking about elder financial abuse. According to the FBI, over the past five years criminals have increasingly targeted older adults. We’ll walk you through what to look out for and offer some tips on how to protect yourself and your loved ones. 

Elder financial abuse is the illegal or improper use of an older adult’s funds, property or assets. Older adults become susceptible because they may be facing cognitive impairment or other health problems that require them to rely on others. They may fall victim to scams involving technology because they are not as adept with new digital tools. Or they could be targets simply because they have more money saved up after a lifetime. 

So, what should you look out for? The top five most common types of elder financial abuse according to the Senate Special Committee on Aging are government impersonation scams, sweepstakes scams, illegal robocalls and unsolicited phone calls, computer tech support scams and grandparent scams.

If you are an older adult, there are a few simple things you can do to protect yourself:

  • Share your financial information with someone (or someone’s!) you have chosen carefully from your trusted network. They can help keep an eye on your accounts should you become unable to manage them yourself. You can even name a trusted contact on investment accounts
  • Never answer unknown phone numbers and don’t trust callers asking for your personal financial information, including social security numbers. Unless you were the person initiating the call, you should never offer up this information over the phone.
  • An easy thing to do around the house is to lock up your checkbook, account statements and other sensitive information in a secure location. Also, be sure to shred or tear up documents before you dispose of them. 

Not yet an older adult? Protecting your loved ones can be as simple as keeping in touch. That way you can keep an eye out for any changes in either their financial life or their personal life. Older adults are often taken advantage of by people whom they know personally and believe they can trust, like a new friend or an in-home caregiver

If you believe you or someone you know has been a victim of a financial scam, contact the Adult Protective Services in your area and your local law enforcement. 

It’s important to us at GSB that you feel equipped to recognize and protect yourself against fraud. Keep an eye out for more tips in our #BankSafe series!

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