The estate has been set up. Wills and trusts are established. Unfortunately, you are still at financial risk. The elderly are at high risk for fraud and other financial scams for several reasons. Most importantly, they have some money to lose. They are also around the house when the phony public employees and unscrupulous contractors are plying their trade. Unfortunately, they may be more trusting than they should be and not always have their defenses up.
There are many steps to take to minimize these risks. You may want to have mail delivered to a post office box to limit access. This is even more important if you travel frequently. Many financial institutions, in fact most, offer online account access and automatic bill pay. Create secure passwords and put them in a safe place, away from the computer.
You are also at risk to telephone or in person scams. Never agree to anything over the phone, always request that callers send the information to the address on file without giving your address. Your caller ID is your best gatekeeper; simply don’t pick up for unfamiliar callers. In a similar vein, reputable contractors are unlikely to be knocking on random doors to get new business.
If you haven’t already established a power of attorney for financial matters, it may be a consideration. Another option is to allow a trusted family member or accountant to monitor your accounts, giving you another set of eyes to detect any charges that just don’t seem right. Regular communication with your auditor will give you piece of mind and limit any potential fraud.
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