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Learn how to protect your loved ones from financial abuse and minimize the damage if it happens!

Elder Financial Abuse on the Rise

A few years ago, my husband’s nana had sent over money to a scammer pretending to him.

She had thought he needed help and so she generously sent it in.

It was a wake call for us. After looking into this and talking with others, our family isn't the only one who's had to deal with this.

Last year, a record 24,454 suspected cases of elder financial abuse were reported to the US Treasury Dept by banks.

I can’t tell you for certain why they’re being targeted, but there are two key factors to consider.

By 2030 US Census Bureau estimates 1 in 5 people will be 65 or older.

Two, there’s a significant amount of money tied to our older friends and family.

According to the American Bankers Association, 70% of bank deposits are with people over 50.

So you have a growing and market that is appealing to scammers.

So what can we do to protect our grandparents, parents, and other older loved ones?

Today Joe Mecca from Coastal Credit Union is back.

In this episode, we’ll discuss:

  • What financial scams are out there
  • Warning signs and What to look out for with your loved ones
  • How your bank or credit unions should be protecting you

Hope this helps!

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If you want to hear more from Joe and find out more about credit unions please check out my interview here.

We discuss how credit unions can be a better option for couples looking to grow their wealth.

Resources to Win with Your Money

Want to go ahead and tackle your big marriage and money goals? Here are the resources we mentioned in today’s episode along with some extras!

Protecting Your Loved One from Elder Financial Abuse

Elle: Financial scams can take many forms. It can be online through e-mail maybe phone calls or even in-person depending on the scammer.

With so many ways to reach out and contact people, it's impossible to completely protect your loved ones.

However, you can look for signs and also better understand what scammers are looking for when they're searching for a target.

Joe Mecca: If you've got loved ones who particularly are more isolated like we talk about our parents and we talk to our parents all the time but those family members that you might not see from or hear from every day who might not have a lot of close family left.

Those are the ones to really watch out for because what's happening is the scammers are preying on their loneliness.

They're preying on the fact that they're isolated that they don't have a lot of people to talk to in their lives and they're spending a lot of time building those relationships.

So what early red flag is if something doesn't seem to add up. Somebody is talking to spend a lot of time talking to somebody that nobody your family knows.

Maybe doing it online or on the telephone but they're really building new relationships with people that we've ever seen from or heard from before. That's a potential red flag not always but it could.

Elle: So regular check-ins are absolutely essential. Depending on your situation, you may be able to arrange a trip over there for a visit in person to a phone call or do video chat.

Just have a consistent time that you can check and maybe rotate it within the family so that your relative and your loved one feels that they're cared for and they don't seek out someone else's help who may not have their best interests at heart.

Another area you want to look into are their caregivers.

Joe Mecca: So you may have hired somebody to take care of somebody who can't take care of themselves.

That whole relationship is built on trust. I'm not saying every caretaker is going to cause a problem but there is a good opportunity within that relationship where somebody who is looking to do no good to actually do it.

So things to look for – you spend a lot of time talking to people who are starting to move money or buy things start starting to move money around from account to account or giving people access to accounts that you shouldn't have access to those accounts.

Elle: So if it's been a while since you've met or talked to your loved one's caretaker go ahead and set aside some time soon.

Like Joe mentioned we're not assuming that the caretaker is engaging in elder financial abuse or doing anything wrong but it is important for them to know that you guys are keeping an eye out on your relative.

And sometimes when you are working with an agency their main caregiver may be a fantastic person but they may have someone on the payroll that substitutes every so often that might not have your relatives best interests at heart.

So being aware of who's doing the regular caretaking and if there are any substitutes are good things to know.

And that means that you have to be on top of it. But part of the challenge as Joe was explaining to me with elder financial abuse is the nature of it.

Joe Mecca: I think one of the big concerns is that you know a lot of elderly financial abuse is happening.

The transactions themselves look legitimate. It's the deceit and coercing the person to actually conduct the transaction. That's where the concern is.

We see people who are trying to get somebody access to their account or sign over power of attorney for something transferring large sums of money and software isn't gonna catch those, it's actual human interaction that's going to catch that.

And that's what we're finding – you can't match human intelligence and being able to sense where something about that interaction isn't quite right to really trigger the sense of something that is it isn't going the way it should be.

Elle: So here's where it becomes a team effort. You two may be working hard to stay on top of things, recruited some other family members to join in and help out but you can't be there 24/7.

This is why you want to make sure that your loved one's financial institution whether it's a bank or credit union is working for them.

I asked Joe what are some things that Coastal is doing for their members to protect them.

Joe Mecca: A lot of it comes down to training. All of our employees undergo just multiple modules of annual training that need to happen over a variety of topics.

People who are in more member facing roles – our front line staff – they'll get extra training on how to spot different types of fraud and different types of scams including elder financial abuse. So we're making sure people are well-trained that.

We've got a pretty decent sized fraud department that's going to investigate things that we see happening that are either our members report or are reported to us that involve our members that will look into it.

They'll start to identify what we can reverse engineer stuff and find what trends to look for things to spot but they'll investigate a lot of things pretty seriously.

Elle: Unfortunately elder financial abuse is increasing. This is something that if you haven't dealt with already will most likely be dealing with in the future whether it's your grandparents your parents or other older relatives.

So before any of the warning signs show up or a scammer gets on the radar sit down and have a plan and also get in contact with your relative's financial institution.

Maybe all of you can sit down and discuss what options are there and what protections there are.

I hope you never have to deal with a loved one getting hit with a financial scam. But if you do I hope this episode makes it a lot easier to deal with and minimize the damage.

Key Takeaways on Protecting Against Elder Financial Abuse

Before we close up I want to focus on some key takeaways I got from speaking with Joe.

  • Keep in touch
  • Be on the lookout
  • Make sure you know your bank’s or credit union’s procedure

If you’d like to chat more about protecting your loved ones and yourself, please join us in our private and free Facebook group – Thriving Families.

We’re families looking to support and help one another out.

Hope to see you there!

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Music Credit

Like the music in this episode? Our theme song is by Gentle Regime. Additional music by Lee Rosevere.

About Elle Martinez

Elle Martinez helps families at Couple Money achieve financial freedom by sharing tips for reducing debt, increase income, and building net worth. Learn how to live on one income and have fun with the second..