Tips To Protect Your Citizens’ Finances: Financial crime against older Americans is a serious problem. According to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), up to 6.6% of Americans age 65 and over have lost money due to trust abuse, fraud, or theft.
The Securities and Exchange Commission states that “the financial exploitation of the elderly is becoming the most common form of elder abuse in the United States.” And with 10,000 people reaching the age of 65 every day in this country. The problem of abuse of trust among older people will worsen in the coming years.
Fortunately, seniors can take steps to protect themselves from fraud and financial manipulation, both by fraudsters and, in some cases, by friends and family. Many older people also need protection from themselves, as money management often becomes difficult as physical and mental functions deteriorate with age. Here are five ways to protect yourself and your finances.
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The 5 Tips To Protect Your Citizens’ Finances As You Get Older Are:
- Automate your finances.
- Require the person who has the right to sign.
- Power of attorney.
- Avoid cash.
- Get an annual credit report.
1. Automate your finances.
Americans are becoming more self-reliant when it comes to managing their retirement money. In 2017, there were $ 14.5 trillion in self-managed retirement accounts in the United States. According to asset management company Cerulli Associates.
This is a huge amount of money and it often becomes difficult for seniors to manage their finances. When their physical and mental functions deteriorate. For this reason, seniors need to automate their finances. Seniors must deposit all sources of income such as retirement funds, social security benefits. And disability payments directly into their bank account.
Likewise, recurring bills such as utility bills, insurance and mortgage payments or rent. Should be automatically debited from their bank account on certain days of each month. Finance automation will make it easier to manage your money and track the receipt of money in bank accounts, as well as their write-offs.
2. Require the person who has the right to sign.
Another tip to protect your citizens’ finances: is to choose someone who has the authority to sign your bank account. The Commissioner for this matter has the power to sign checks, deposit and withdraw funds on behalf of the account holder, and access account information such as balance and activity.
However, the person who has the authority to sign does not own the bank account and the assets of the account, unless he is listed as the beneficiary of the account in the event of your death. These conditions differ from the joint account: the owner of the joint account shares the ownership of the bank account and the money held in it. The joint account holder also has the option to withdraw all funds from the bank account and close it.
The authority to sign must be a person whom the citizen trusts, be it an adult family member, neighbour or friend. Appointing an authorized person to do this will allow him to keep track of what is happening with your bank account and ensure that no one, including you, makes large or strange transactions. It is worth reiterating that the choice of the trustee is very important.
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3. Power of attorney.
One of the best ways for older Americans to protect their finances is through a power of attorney. This means empowering a trusted person (again, a family member, friend, or neighbour) to manage your finances, including property, if you can’t do it yourself, even temporarily.
A power of attorney differs from a will in that it ensures that your wishes are fulfilled while you are alive. (A will guarantees that your wishes will be fulfilled after your death.) Any citizen can also appoint more than one “agent” or “guardian” (legal conditions for persons holding a power of attorney).
Many lawyers recommend this option because in this case, no one can act unilaterally when it comes to your money and property, which reduces the risk of fraud, theft and financial abuse. You can ask two or more agents to make all decisions about your affairs together.
Typically, agents can access bank accounts, manage investments, file tax returns, deal with health insurance, and sell real estate. A power of attorney is used when older people lack the mental capacity to make their own financial decisions. It is also used when seniors still have their mental faculties but need help managing their finances due to illness or disability.
To do this, it is necessary to fill out the documents of the established form. Which are necessary for issuing a permanent power of attorney in the state in which the pensioner lives. Completed forms must be verified by a lawyer and signed by the citizen. In need of the power of attorney and their designated representatives before the notary.
Typically, there are two types of powers of attorney. One for making financial decisions and the other for making medical decisions.
4. Avoid cash.
For the tips to protect your citizens’ finances: It is never recommended to keep large amounts of money at home, in your wallet or bag. That is, in places where other people can easily access it. Payment by bank transfer or credit card requires an electronic entry. This can be very useful in the event that someone is committing fraudulent activities using someone else’s card. An electronic trial can help a bank or law enforcement to identify the culprit and recover the stolen money.
In addition, credit card companies are very good at recognizing and rejecting unauthorized payments before the cardholder notices. On top of that, even if an unauthorized payment does occur, federal law limits cardholder liability to $ 50, and most credit card issuers in the United States establish fraud liability at $ 0.
Older people are used to carrying cash with them as they remember the days before the advent of ATMs and online banking. But dealing with cash is dangerous as it can easily be wasted. It is necessary to track financial transactions that can be controlled by the citizen himself or the person with the authority to sign, an agent, a lawyer or a bank. This is the best way to find out where your money is or where it went.
5. Get an annual credit report.
Under federal law, every American has the right to request a free credit report annually. From all major US credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Every citizen can request such a credit report at www.AnnualCreditReport.com. The credit report will contain information about any unusual or potentially fraudulent financial transactions associated with his accounts.
For example, the report might include information about credit cards that he may not have ordered, or unauthorized purchases. If a citizen or someone he trusts notices unusual financial activity.
This should be reported to one of the three major credit bureaus, banks, or other financial institutions. With which he regularly works. They can block the fraudulent credit card generator.
Ageing comes with a multitude of challenges, changes, and responsibilities. And some of them are just as important as protecting your finances from fraud, breach of trust, or theft. Financial crime against older people is a real and growing problem. Awareness of the problem and taking action to protect yourself is the best way to ensure a comfortable and free life in old age.