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Seniors: Don’t Be a Financial Victim!

Each of us has probably been the victim of a scam at one time or another. But financial exploitation is growing increasingly common when it comes to seniors. Con artists, bogus charities, or unscrupulous contractors seem to prey on the elderly, who tend to be highly trusting and most vulnerable. Courtesy of the Massachusetts Bankers Association, here are some tips that can help seniors protect their savings:

Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Financial matters can be confusing. If you have questions or need help, ask your bank, attorney, trusted family member, friend, clergy member, social worker, or other professional.

Plan ahead
The more you plan for your future, the more control you’ll have over your finances. Pre-arranged funerals and fiduciary arrangements increase the chances your wishes will be carried out.

Get to know your banker
Establish relationships with the professionals who handle your finances. We can help advise you, and may notice changes in your financial activity that may signal problems.

Beware of con games
Don’t assume that you’re too clever to be swindled. Con artists are very skillful and can manipulate people in many ways.

Understand the power of attorney
Before you assign a power of attorney, make sure you understand the scope of the arrangement and the authority you’re giving to the person exercising it.

Don’t give away property to anyone in exchange for promises of lifelong care
Before you enter into an agreement for lifelong care, discuss the arrangement with a trusted friend or advisor. Document the agreement and specify the details of the care and compensation. You should have an attorney review the document before you sign it.

Stay socially active
Social isolation increases your risk of becoming a victim of abuse. Become familiar with the programs in your community —like those offered at local senior centers —designed to bring people together.

Never be pressured into signing anything you don’t understand
If you are unsure about whether to sign a document, have a trusted friend or other advisor review it. Get clear, understandable answers to your questions.

Document financial arrangements
By putting all financial arrangements in writing, you not only protect yourself but also reduce the likelihood of future misunderstandings or legal proceedings.

Protect your money
Your bank may be able to help you protect your money. Talk to us about various options.

Other Things to Remember

  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Check the references and credentials of anyone who wants to enter your home or work for you, including utility workers and town employees.
  • Pay with a check rather than cash to maintain a paper trail of transactions.
  • If you’re told you’ve just won a prize, you probably haven’t.
  • Beware of door-to-door sales people and phone sales pitches.
  • Don’t give your money to anyone who claims to need your help investigating a crime or who claims to have just found a large sum of cash.
  • Don’t give out your bank account number, debit or credit card number, or Social Security number over the phone or internet unless you placed the call or initiated the transaction.
  • Verify charities with the Public Charities Division of the Attorney General.
  • Don’t give your ATM PIN number or other financial information to strangers or to anyone else who does not need to know.
  • If you don’t use your ATM card, cancel it.
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