Money Fix: Preventing elder financial abuse
Elders lose almost $3 billion a year to scammers.
"Because seniors over 65 hold about $18 trillion in assets, they are targets," says Andrew Stoltman, a Chicago lawyer who represents seniors in investment fraud cases. How best to protect your aging loved ones from predators? Here are some suggestions.
COMMUNICATE. They want to be independent and not be told what to do, but staying in the know about their finances will help avoid trouble, says Melville attorney Leslie Tayne.
MEET MONTHLY. Get your loved one's permission to receive copies of bank statements and bills to monitor them, says Glynnis Walker, a researcher in Chicago. Automate payments.
DO DOCUMENTS EARLY. Complete advance directives, including a power of attorney, which enables money to be moved from the vulnerable person's name to a trusted person, says Matt Kudish, a vice president with the Alzheimer's Association in New York City. Once someone declines, it may be too late and too emotional for tough decisions, warns Vivette Henry, director of social services at Workmen's Circle MultiCare Center in the Bronx.
BLOCK ACCESS. Scammers love the phone. Get a private number. Change your loved one's address to a post office box and sort the mail with them, advises Mark Labib, owner of Home Instead Senior Care in Merrick.
KEEP THEM ACTIVE. Social isolation increases the risk for abuse. Says Steve Starnes, an adviser with Savant Capital Management in McLean, Va.: "Make unplanned visits and plan social activities outside the home."