People ages 50 and over own 67 percent of bank deposits in the country. And their high level of assets makes them targets of the fastest-growing form of elder abuse — financial exploitation. The average victim loses $120,000, almost the same amount the average 50-plus household has in savings.
TCU team members are trained to identify red flags commonly associated with financial abuse, from unusual recent withdrawals to a new person accompanying the older customer to the bank. However, elder financial abuse is best combated when financial institutions and clients work together.
To help older Americans protect themselves, TCU offers the following tips:
Keep personal information private
Never share your social security number, account information or personal details over the phone or internet, unless you initiated contact with a trusted source.
Shred receipts, bank statements and unused credit card offers before throwing them away so fraudsters can’t piece together your personal information.
Don’t let a so-called “advisor” pressure you
Never let a new or untrusted “advisor” pressure you into sharing personal or financial details. He or she could be a fraudster.
Check your credit report
Check your credit report at least annually to ensure no new credit cards or accounts have been opened by criminals in your name. To receive a free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website at www.annualcreditreport.com, or call 1-877-322-8228.
Never rush into a financial decision
Ask for details in writing and get a second opinion from a trusted financial advisor or attorney before signing any document you don’t understand.
Never pay a fee or taxes to collect sweepstakes
Look out for “sweepstakes” or “lottery” scams, which involve fraudsters issuing counterfeit checks and fake award letters to consumers alleging they have won a lottery or sweepstakes. The victim is instructed to pay taxes and fees upfront, but after they send the money they find out they haven’t won anything. Never pay a fee upfront to win a lottery.
If you believe you are the victim of financial abuse, don’t hesitate to tell someone you trust. Report to a family member, your clergy, attorney, doctor or credit union. Contact Adult Protective Services or your local police department for help.