According to Karen Roberto, director of the Center for Gerontology at Virginia Tech, older adults are particularly vulnerable to financial abuse during the holidays. “This might be due to the increase in the frequency of visitors in and out of their homes, money flowing more freely, and distractions that take them out of their normal routines.”
The research showed that older Americans are losing $2.9 billion annually to elder financial abuse, a 12% increase from 2008. Elderly women, especially those between the ages of 80 and 89, are twice as likely as men to be a victim of financial abuse.
Ms. Roberto offers 10 tips to avoid financial abuse:
- Stay active. Isolation increases the opportunity to be victimized.
- Monitor your financial affairs. Ask a trusted friend or family member to double check financial statements and transactions.
- Stay organized.
- Get a Power of Attorney so someone can help if you become disabled.
- Be cautious. Don’t make hasty decisions and NEVER give out bank account, Social Security or credit card information to solicitors.
- Protect passwords.
- Do not talk to telephone solicitors. Call the Do Not Call Registry (1-888-382-1222) to reduce the number of calls you receive.
- Be careful of individuals who pressure you about money issues.
- Get a second opinion about financial decisions.
If you feel you are being victimized, discuss it with someone you trust.