You work hard tucking away money into savings with sights set on a comfortable retirement. Unfortunately, there are some who see your savings as a target for easy money. Taking these five steps can help you dodge common traps and safeguard your financial future.
Be Cautious with Family
The harsh truth is family commits nearly two-thirds of senior financial abuse1. Some abuse is malicious while others are unintentional. Requesting money without a thought of the economic impact on a parent may be innocent but has real consequences. To protect yourself, create a financial plan early and share with several people including family members, friends, or financial advisors. Keeping communication open will help set necessary boundaries and develop a system of checks and balances.
Recognize Intimidation Scams
Scammers present themselves over the phone as Social Security, Medicare, IRS, sheriff’s department or even the utility company. They provide scenarios designed to provoke panic or fear in hopes you readily give up personal or banking account information to resolve a fake crisis. Stay alert to these scams and do not get caught up emotionally and fall victim to their scheme. If you don’t initiate the call, hang up instead of providing information. Look for a publicly listed phone number if you want to confirm an issue.
Apply Password Safety
Maintaining good password practices protects your bank, retirement and other financial accounts. Use strong passwords that are long, contain random capitalization and symbols, and are changed frequently. Never use the same or a similar password for more than one account. If keeping up with all those passwords is too complicated, look into using a password manager to create and store unique passwords.
In this age of social media, we share too much personal information publicly, making it easier for identity thieves and swindlers to develop a rapport with their victims. Make use of privacy settings and lock down your accounts as much as possible. Obituaries are another source used to gather information. When writing a memorial for a deceased loved one, omit birthdates, addresses, middle names and names of children or grandchildren. A skilled fraudster can easily use these details to steal an identity of the living or deceased or build a convincing scam to prey on the survivors.
Avoid Investment Schemes
Whether it’s framed as an opportunity for early retirement or an incredible investment, any offer requiring large amounts of money should be met with skepticism. Ask for references and credentials, then thoroughly research before trusting someone with your money. Also, do not grant your financial advisor the right to send money to a third party. It may be inconvenient to have money come to you to submit to a third party, but it protects you from a scam artist who skims a little at a time.
We have identified a number of helpful resources. Please visit the following websites for additional information or learn how to report fraud:
- 2019 Oklahoma Senior Protection Summit
- U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
- U.S. Department of Justice
Social Security Administration