As the Internet exposes financial and banking records to hackers, seniors need to know how to protect their money and investments. LivHOME provides updated information on the benefits and risks of many financial strategies ranging from credit card use to online banking statements.
Here are our top ten financial tips for seniors.
1: Choose financial advisors carefully. Research them through the Better Business Bureau and local bank. Some banks offer financial advisors for their customers and can be the best choice.
2: A reverse mortgage allows homeowners age 62 and older to borrow against the equity in their homes without having to make monthly payments. However, a reverse mortgage will eventually have to be paid back with interest, usually when the home is sold.
3: Review credit reports regularly. This is one of the best ways to quickly identify theft. Credit reports can be ordered for free from the three largest credit reporting agencies.
4. Know the red flags of fraud, including:
- Unsolicited phone calls or emails requesting large sums of money before receiving goods or services.
- An offer for an investment “guaranteeing” a return that’s way above the competition.
- Pressure to send funds quickly by wire transfer.
5: Protect your personal information. Never provide social security numbers, bank account information, PINs, or passwords in response to an unsolicited call, letter, e-mail or text message.
6: Sign up for direct deposit. This is the fastest and safest way to receive pension, social security payments and tax refunds. Make sure the full amount was deposited. Letters pretending to be from a government agency saying that direct deposits have been changed are fraudulent. Report them immediately.
7: Don’t hesitate to report a fraud or theft immediately! It may be embarrassing, but the only way to recover money, and prevent others from falling victim to the same scam, is to report it.
8: Love relatives, but don’t over-lend money. It is tempting to help a family member buy a first car or get a student loan, but loans that are co-signed and never paid must be paid by the co-signer, and there is no release from it.
9: Organize and protect important documents. Keep bank and brokerage statements, insurance policies, Social Security and company pension records at home in a safe place. If there are frequent visitors to the senior’s home, checkbooks, credit cards and other financial records should be kept out of sight. Consider a safe deposit box for birth certificates, property deeds and car titles. An original copy of a will or power of attorney should be kept with an attorney.
10: Prepare for the worst. Make sure that provisions are in place for a trusted friend or family member to handle the senior’s finances should s/he become incapacitated through power of attorney documents. Make a list of all financial institutions and account numbers and give it to that person.