Guard Against Fraud and Financial Scams
There are no easily learned tricks for guarding against fraud. It takes diligence and the willingness to double check information you’ve been given. It takes time and it means that you need to slow down some decision making, but in the long run, you will be more secure.
Sadly, many retirees are victimized by people they know. Friends, neighbors, members of social or religious institutions, former business partners or even family members have been known to take advantage of aging and vulnerable seniors.
Proactively planning, preferably before you retire, can help you protect against the effects of your own eventual decline and alleviate the stress that you or your family may experience.
Though you can’t guarantee you will be safe from fraud, consider the following safety nets to help ward off acts meant to deceive you.
- Automate Basic Transactions
Work with your bank or savings institution to automate some of your basic transactions. For example, have a certain amount of a non-interest bearing account moved to an interest-bearing account when a level is reached. Work with companies to automate bill payments that occur each month. There are many opportunities to automate, including investments. Ask when you deal with a vendor or service to see what you can automate.
- Set Up a “Trusted Team”
Engage a trusted network of allies early on in retirement to allow others to manage your finances if or when it becomes necessary. With your finances and paperwork in order, enlist your team members so that each has a defined role, there are checks and balances, and each knows what the others can or can’t do. Your team members should be trusted, knowledgeable people whom you can confidently rely upon to act in your best interests and intervene when actions might be detrimental to your circumstances and goals. It does not have to be family, but can include legal, tax or financial advisors, friends, business associates or clergy. If necessary, seek professional or legal assistance to formalize this team.
- Put Together Your Will and Powers of Attorney
Besides a will, you should have at least these other basic documents:
- A durable power of attorney designating a representative who acts on your behalf if you can no longer manage your financial and/or personal affairs.
- A living will (advance directive) outlining your personal wishes as to medical and other treatment you want to have performed should you no longer be able to express informed consent for yourself.
- A medical durable power of attorney (a health-care proxy) appointing someone you trust to make healthcare decisions for you.
Develop Your Trusted Team
Use the Trusted Team Worksheet to designate individuals for specific roles within your Trusted Team. Start by identifying the types of jobs or roles that will help you manage your financial assets, make decisions related to lifestyle and health care, handle any legal matters and monitor decision-making capabilities. Next, identify a specific individual for each Trusted Team role. Implement a checks and balances strategy to ensure that team members monitor your actions as well as the actions of each other.