ALEXANDRIA, Va. (5/20/14)--With May designated as Older Americans Month, the National Credit Union Administration has released information in its monthly newsletter designed to help seniors and their caregivers avoid "financial injuries."
The NCUA's Pocket Cents program has a section specifically tailored to seniors that includes information on retirement, managing debt, share insurance coverage, online financial security, reverse mortgages, home equity and more. There is also information aimed at preventing elder financial abuse, which includes breakdowns of specific scams that the FBI and other agencies are aware of.
The fact that seniors often have a nest egg, own their own homes and generally have good credit makes them a top-priority target for con artists. Solicitors pushing bogus charities, faulty home repairs, fraudulent health care or medical devices, phony investments and even phantom cemetery plots and funeral services are all schemes that cost seniors an estimated $3 billion per year.
NCUA Chair Debbie Matz, in the May "The NCUA Report," wrote an article aimed at helping seniors avoid fraud, which gives the following tips:
- Never give out personal or financial information unless you personally initiated the exchange. Particularly sensitive information includes Social Security numbers, account numbers and dates of birth.
- Never make a commitment on the spot. Take time to discuss any transactions with family members, friends or caregivers.
- Do not be pressured into signing a document you do not understand.
- For caregivers: look out for erratic financial transactions in seniors' accounts. This can include large account withdrawals, frequent ATM use and share certificate penalties.
NCUA also recommends that credit unions look into inviting government agencies or nonprofits that can offer free assistance to seniors on retirement, Social Security, health care and other issues. These services can include counseling for low-income seniors at or near retirement age, or an information fair at individual credit union branches.
Use the resource links below for more information.