North American Precis Syndicate
(NAPSI)—While elder financial abuse decimates incomes, affects the health of its victims and fractures families, the MetLife Mature Market Institute offers free resources and tools, including steps you can take to protect yourself and those you care for:
• Know the Facts and Stats.According to “The MetLife Study of Elder Financial Abuse,” most elder financial abuse is committed by strangers but about a third is by family, friends or neighbors.
• Stay Active. Socialize with family members and friends. Get involved in activities you enjoy. Isolation can leave you more vulnerable to exploitation.
• Monitor Your Affairs. Take your time and consult with people you trust before making important financial decisions. Check credit card and bank statements and bills for accuracy. Use direct deposit to prevent mail theft. Sign your own checks when possible.
• Be Organized. Keep important papers and legal documents in a secure place. Review them at least annually.
• Be Cautious. Be careful when responding to solicitations. Don’t let anyone pressure you into making an immediate decision. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Speak with a family member or trusted friend before sending money or providing bank account, credit card or Social Security numbers.
• Protect Your Passwords. Don’t share passwords. Change them if you feel they’ve been seen or used by someone else. Immediately notify the company or bank if, when reviewing your financial statements, you see charges or transactions you didn’t make.
• Beware of Telephone Solicitations. Planning Tips: Preventing Elder Abuse, produced by the Mature Market Institute, notes that billions of dollars are lost each year to fraudulent telemarketers. Consider using an answering machine or caller ID to screen calls. You can add your name and phone number to the National Do Not Call Registry at (888) 382-1222.
• Know What to Do if You’re a Victim. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to discuss your concerns with someone you trust-relative, clergyman, bank manager, attorney. Knowing the resources you can turn to, including the police, your bank and Adult Protective Services, can be the first steps in addressing the problem.
• Learn More. Excellent resources include “The MetLife Study of Elder Financial Abuse”; “The Essentials: Preventing Elder Abuse”; “Planning Tips: Preventing Elder Financial Abuse for Older Adults”; and “Planning Tips: Preventing Elder Financial Abuse for Family Caregivers.” Created by the MetLife Mature Market Institute, MetLife’s center of expertise in aging, longevity and the generations, they may be downloaded from www.MatureMarketInstitute.com.