Research suggests that after the age of 70 our financial decision making abilities can decline rapidly. Year round, especially during tax season with people posing as government and credit company representatives, we are hearing about more scams and new ways that deceive and defraud aging people out of hundreds, even tens of thousands of dollars, and for some, their entire life savings.
Finances and how to handle them is always a sensitive subject to talk about; especially to our elders who have been financially independent their entire adult lives. No matter how old we get, listening and taking advice from someone younger than ourselves is hard, especially if the information is from someone they have raised. Despite the difficulty of bringing up personal finances, ensuring the protection of your elder’s personal information and their money is a necessary conversation everyone needs to have, so let’s get started.
Start by talking with your loved one BEFORE signs of impaired decision making or diminished capacity begin. As we said, starting the conversation may be difficult; however, it can ensure that if these signs do occur, you will be prepared and can be PROACTIVE instead of reactive BEFORE financial irregularities take place. Be sure to discuss a plan of action and that EVERYONE involved will know what to do if this impaired judgement does begin to occur. It is important that the wishes of our loved ones are met to their desired outcome and that it continues if they are no longer able to make these decisions themselves.
SIMPLIFY BANKING AND FINANCES
Consolidate bank accounts to one bank and investments to one brokerage firm. Only have 2 credit cards per person. 1 credit card for automatic payments and 1 credit card for purchases. 1 debit card per person. This allows easier tracking by banks and their fraud tracking software to keep tabs on the spending habits and locations debit and credit cards are used allowing for faster notification if there is any suspicious transactions. Even though the banking world is practically all online, try and have your elders visit the bank on a regular basis. Often times it is the keen eye of a teller or bank manager that notices someone different accompanying a senior while they make a withdrawl. For further information combating fraud check out the CAFC (Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre)
APPOINT A POWER OF ATTORNEY
A power of attorney for financial and health care decisions is something every person should have regardless of age. In the case of an aging relative, this person that will act on their behalf in the case they become incapacitated. This will help protect a vulnerable person from giving money or access to funds to a fraudulent cause. For further information regarding power of attorneys and their roles check out https://www.lawdepot.ca/law-library/faq/power-of-attorney-faq-canada/#.WjK5nUqnHIU
KEEP IN TOUCH
Isolation is a scammer’s best friend. Elders that are separated from family and friends can easily fall victim. Not only can money and credit be stolen but precious heirlooms such as jewelry and collectibles, furniture, artwork, electronics, tools and even vehicles-virtually anything with a dollar value. Often times once these items are gone the chances of getting them back are next to none. Keeping the conversation going will tell you if there is a recurring salesperson pressuring for credit info, phone calls asking for banking info and you will notice if key items are missing.
KEEP INFORMED AND UP TO DATE
Criminals are always trying to stay one step ahead of the law. Keep informed with local police and news. Some police agencies even offer email newsletters or recorded telephone messages with information of reported scams happening locally. Get to know your loved ones neighbours, they are often aware of “outsiders” or unusual visitors to the neighbourhood and your loved one.
Financial fraud of an aging person is considered elder abuse
As our loved ones become older, the ease in which criminals approach and deceive them is one of the fastest growing crimes occurring today. We hope that these five points will help you to begin taking steps to protect the elders in your life and lowers the likelihood of these financial crimes happening to them. For further information combating fraud check out the CAFC (Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre)