Protecting Seniors: It’s Time For A Preventative Approach

Photo by JD Mason on Unsplash

Senior citizens found themselves in the cross hairs of scammers and criminals a long time ago.  This is not a new issue. While the prevailing belief is that this is due to diminished capacity or because seniors are simply “easy prey”, it isn’t that simple.  What most don’t consider is that our senior community is the wealthiest demo in the country and there are little to no protections for the areas of financial management that most of these abuses stem from.

Various studies estimate that seniors in the U.S. are scammed out of anywhere from $3 billion to $37 billion a year.  Between 2013 and 2017, those over age 70 lost an average of $41,800 to elder financial exploitation, according to an analysis by the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  -CNBC 10/13/19

Any good businessperson agrees that success lies in finding a large pool of consumers that will pay top dollar for your good/service.  This the same principal that these miscreants adhere to – the country’s 52 million seniors whose average wealth is well in excess of 1 million dollars are their target market.  By leveraging sales tactics that prey on the senior’s fear, vulnerability or simply through a “hard sell”, the conversion from target to victim is swift.

Screen Shot 2019-11-08 at 7.47.02 AM
DQYDJ Average and Median Net Worth by Age Range, 2016. (Includes primary home equity.)

So, what do we do?  Let’s ask The Google……  There are pages and pages pointing to resources (professional, local and national) for those that have already fallen victim to these reprehensible activities – after the fact.  There is a ton of content for family, friends and professional advisors mostly entitled “The Top Warning Signs” – again, all after the fact.  The time has come to quit treating the epidemic and to begin inoculating.

Speaking of Warning Signs – there is plenty of associated content out there that creates a GIANT misconception – if someone has been victimized then there may be diminished capacity.  This is a gross generalization and should only be one of MANY considerations.  The cognitive divide between how someone oversees bill pay, email, marketing and financial/benefit management is far different today than it was a decade let alone three decades ago.  Trusting in a financial management system that has become foreign to us or someone who appears to be advocating on your behalf can play a big role in falling prey to a scam or criminal activity.  It is not necessarily a diagnosis for cognitive decline.  What is the net/net?  Everyone is susceptible.

Again, what to do?  Marketing/targeting through snail or e-mail and the phone as well as opportunistic caregivers are the central avenues for infiltration.  Today, most seniors continue to self manage or rely on family/friends or caregivers for guidance.  49% of those providing financial caregiving (paying the bills on behalf of loved ones, handling insurance claims, filing taxes) don’t have the legal authorization to do so.”  Merrill Lynch: The Journey Of Caregiving  It is time to put up road blocks but NOT minimize anyone’s ability to manage their home or money.   It’s time to give seniors a firewall of qualified protection.

By working with a Certified Senior Advisor® (CSA), every senior gains a “financial bodyguard“.  A Certified Senior Advisor® is a professional with recognized expertise in senior living, daily money management, Medicare as well as other public & private benefits and most importantly, is dedicated to supporting the individual.  A financial caregiver.  A gate keeper.  An advocate.

Part of the magic of a CSA is that they work in concert with the senior’s family, caregivers, legal advisors and financial professionals.  Coordinating distributions, tracking charitable contributions, tax prep, budgeting/cashflow tracking, benefits maximization are just a few of the functions a CSA performs.  All of these activities require the cooperation of other professional efforts and create awareness & transparency that works to the protection & benefit of the senior.

Support your loved ones and clients by exploring how a CSA can contribute to their financial security, peace of mind and longevity.

Published by SrChecksandBalances

Native of Chicago's North Shore, Jill is the Founder of Senior Checks and Balances - a one on one consultancy that works with the senior community to insure financial security and efficiency. Jill is a graduate of Miami University (OH) with a degree in Economics, is a Certified Senior Advisor and member of the Association of Daily Money Managers.

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