Men and women of any race, economic level, and health status can be a victim of elder financial abuse or exploitation. The individual trying to take advantage of you may be a stranger or someone you trust — even a son, daughter, or other family member. As an older adult, you need to be aware of precautions, behaviors, and actions that can help protect you from becoming a victim of financial abuse or exploitation at the hands of others.
These Tips have been prepared in collaboration with the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (NCPEA) and the Center for Gerontology at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
Stay Active and Engage with Others
Remain active and socialize with your family members and friends. Become involved in activities you enjoy. Avoid isolation, as it can lead to loneliness, depression, and make you more vulnerable to financial abuse or exploitation.
Monitor Your Financial Affairs
Take your time and consult people you trust in making important financial decisions. It is often helpful to have another set of eyes review any documents that involve financial transactions. Check monthly credit card and bank statements and bills for accuracy. Use direct deposit for Social Security and other payments to prevent mail theft. Sign your own checks whenever possible.
Keep important papers and legal documents in a safe, secure location. Review your legal documents (i.e., wills, trusts, and power of attorney), as well as other important documents (i.e., insurance policies) at least annually, to make certain they continue to represent your wishes. Circumstances may have changed, and items such as power of attorney designations and beneficiaries may need to be updated. Contact your attorney with any questions.