4 More Tips To Help Prevent Elder Financial Fraud
Benchmark Senior Living hosted another helpful workshop and panel spotlighting the broad-ranging scope of elder financial abuse and some simple ways to help shore up your defenses against it.
Among those in attendance were Andrea Teichman, SVP and Chief General Counsel of Benchmark Senior Living; Roland Chan, SVP in Global Information Security at Bank of America/Merrill Lynch; Liz Loewy, former prosecutor in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office and current COO and Co-founder of Eversafe; Mike Festa, AARP State Director for Massachusetts; and Eric Rosenbaum, an Elder Affairs officer for the city of Newton, MA , in a panel moderated by TV journalist Leslie Gaydos.
The conversation was broad-ranging, interactive, and featured lots of questions and discussion. The key tips passed along were:
- Elder financial abuse is widespread—and becoming increasingly sophisticated. Some estimates tallied potential abuse damages across the economy as high as $5 trillion in the next year, which is roughly the size of all of the economies of Latin America combined. Talk focused around an event that recently came to light of a sophisticated attack on a corporate CEO whose voice was faked by hackers in a call to a subordinate. The call wound up costing the CEO $243,000 and is the first public case of a voice being faked to dupe a victim.
- Consider going beyond a credit freeze. Credit freezes are nice because they’re offered for free as of September 2018, but they only prevent a scammer from opening new credit-based accounts. They don’t, for example, monitor old or seldom-used accounts or monitor depository accounts that may be opened in your name. In order to do this, you may need to pay for a service such as Eversafe in order to make sure you’re covered completely.
- Have a plan, stick to it, and make sure you have many observers. A single loved one, adult child, or spouse may not be able to track all the accounts or financial vulnerabilities that a loved one may have. Make sure you prepare the necessary paperwork, such as an electronic and hard copy of HIPPA forms, powers of attorney, and health care directives, and that your network of loved ones is aware of the signs to look for in the case of financial abuse.
- Prevention is key because, in many cases, once the money’s gone, it’s gone. Over and over again, the audience heard stories of frauds that didn’t have tidy resolutions because the money had gone overseas. Once the money is out of the country, panelists stressed that it is very, very difficult to recover. Additionally, prevention becomes important because panelists also mentioned serious negative health outcomes for victims of financial crime and exploitation. Stay up-to-date with resources like AARP's Fraud Watch Network, which has a hotline you can call if you suspect you or a loved one has fallen victim. Additionally, the Fraud Watch Network webpage has up-to-date tips on prevention and rundowns of the latest "hot" scams so you can understand what you're looking for.