As our family members age and technology continues to evolve, there is certainly an emergent trepidation over their financial security. While it takes decades of diligence and discipline to build a secure nest egg to live off of during life’s golden years, it only takes an instant for scammers to take it all away. Financial fraud is on the rise, especially on the Internet, where many senior citizens are easy targets of technologically savvy scammers.
With fraud impacting millions of individuals each year, it is essential for our aging family members to educate themselves and outsmart these scammers. Following these tips below can help senior citizens protect their hard earned money.
Avoid Giving out Personal Information
From digital medical records to online banking, our personal information is easily accessible with a simple password. Avoid providing sources you do not know or trust with personal information such as your social security number, debit card or bank account number, birthday, mother’s maiden name, medical records or another other information that enables a potential scammer to gain access to your online accounts. Make your passwords difficult to guess; for example, don’t use “12345” or “password” as your password. Lock away any lists you keep of online passwords in a secure place. Leaving the list of passwords inside your desk or underneath your computer keyboard makes you more vulnerable to fraud.
Always Ask for Contracts or Deals in Writing
Whether you receive a phone call promoting a free product, or a call asking you to make a cash charitable donation, make sure to do your homework. Be very, very, cautious about giving your credit card or bank information over the phone. A legitimate charitable organization will provide a receipt for cash or in-kind donations. Additionally, when approached by door-to-door salespeople, always ask them to follow up with information in writing about deeply discounted specials or services before making a decision. If you have any doubts about a product or service, do some research on the company. If you are unable to find reputable information about the company in question, it is likely the deal is too good to be true.
Check Your Finances Regularly
As a good rule of thumb, it is important to monitor all financial statements regularly for suspicious activity. This includes reviewing your checking and savings account, retirement and investment statements, and even your frequent flyer mile accounts frequently. Report anything immediately that appears out of the ordinary.
Educate Yourself and Ask Questions
With the number of financial scams circulating, education is paramount. For example, if you are caring for an aging parent, discuss their finances and what they can do to safeguard themselves. Financial fraud can affect anyone, so staying abreast of the latest scams will help you protect yourself. Reminding elderly loved ones to keep their personal information private. Be cautious about trusting people who are asking for contributions, selling products or services, or promoting a lottery or sweepstakes. Educating yourself, and being cautious when providing others your financial information, is the best defense against financial scams.
Preserving your retirement assets can be a complicated process. Being alert to financial scams that seek to take your hard-earned money is an important part of allowing you to enjoy your retirement. With the guidance of trusted financial advisors, and estate and trust attorneys, you can rest assured that your best interests are being protected.