As retirees age, they become increasingly susceptible to schemes aimed at separating them from their hard-earned savings. More than a third of seniors lose money to exploitation over any given five-year period, according to a 2015 report by True Link Financial. And Allianz’s 2016 Safeguarding Our Seniors study estimates the average loss is some $36,000.
Caregivers and close family members are often in the best position to pick up on potential threats—assuming they know what to look for. Here are five ways to help the susceptible steer clear of trouble.
- Listen: Pay attention to how aging loved ones talk about their finances. If they indicate they’re confused by their finances, their money seems to be disappearing or they’re being approached by suspicious individuals, it might be time to intervene.
- Look: Keep an eye out for changes in behavior or spending habits, as these could indicate your loved one is being scammed or otherwise taken advantage of.
- Discuss: Loved ones may be less forthcoming if they feel cornered or embarrassed, so talk in terms that leave them feeling supported rather than blamed.
- Anticipate: Most financial institutions have additional security measures they can activate to help protect the potentially vulnerable.
- Alert: The sooner you take steps to halt losses and recoup lost funds—which can include notifying law enforcement, Adult Protective Services and the Federal Trade Commission to report specific scams—the greater your likelihood of success.
A financial advisor is also potentially useful for spotting changes in financial behavior, says Joyce Couillard, a senior team manager in charge of fraud investigations at Schwab Financial Crimes Risk Management. “The nice thing about institutions like ours is that we’re well-positioned to pick up on abnormal or suspicious activity,” she says. “Family plays a key role, but it’s good to know there’s someone else in your corner.”
What You Can Do Next
- Schwab clients can to add or change a trusted contact.
- Read more about ways to protect their legacies.