As many consumers get older, it can be difficult to manage their finances. With times and technology constantly evolving, it can also be difficult for seniors to maintain their financial security and keep their account information out of scammer’s hands. At Two Rivers Bank & Trust, we value teaching our customers how to bank safe—here are five safe financial tips specifically geared towards older generations.
Know the red flags of fraud
It’s important to know the red flags of fraud—unsolicited phone calls, unexpected emails or calls requesting account information are all major red flags that someone unknown is trying to access your money. Also be on the lookout for offers that seem too good to be true, or individuals who seem to be expressing a new or unusual interest in your finances. Many scammers may also call you requesting large sums of money via wire transfer to help a relative—before sending any money, be sure to call your family members to check on their story.
“The biggest problem that I’ve run into in my career has to do with phone calls,” explains Eric Benne, Two Rivers Bank & Trust VP & Trust Officer. “For example, many seniors receive phone calls from individuals claiming to be relatives in trouble or even callers claiming to be the IRS. Always do your research before giving any information to these individuals. And remember, the IRS will never call you!”
“The most important piece of advice to remember is to trust your gut. If something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t. Even if you feel like the person calling you is legitimate, always do your research before taking action.
Research financial advisors before investing money or paying for services
Before you follow advice from your financial advisor, you may want to double check their background, and research what their title actually means.
“Make sure that you find someone who is capable of assisting you in a proper way,” says Benne. “It’s easy enough to check and see that whoever you’re dealing with is registered with the proper licenses. Meet with them in person to see if the relationship will fit your needs before you even commit to working together. Most importantly, trust your instincts when it comes to this relationship—you need to trust your financial advisor and feel comfortable with them.”
A financial advisor is a great tool to have, but only when they keep your best interests in mind and truly have your back. Ensure you’re receiving the best financial advice and feel confident in your financial decisions by researching reputable financial advisors in your area.
Stay up-to-date with your account information and statements
Make sure your account withdrawals and deposits are accurate by reviewing your statements as soon as you receive them. If you notice any questionable withdrawals or activity, call your bank immediately to clarify the activity or to report potential fraud on your account. If you’re able to, also consider switching your paper statements to eStatements. eStatements will help reduce your risk of fraud, while also allowing you the ability to monitor your account activity any time of day via your computer or mobile device.
Be careful who you give legal authority to access your accounts
As you get older, it only makes sense that you include a Power of Attorney on your accounts. While this is a smart move, make sure you only give this access to someone you trust and who has your best interests in mind—a close family member or friend may be an excellent choice. Before giving them access to your accounts, make sure you sit down with them to layout your expectations and financial limitations, that way everyone is on the same page, and there will be no miscommunication down the road.
“Anytime you start to explore the avenue of allowing another individual to have authority over your affairs, you need to make certain that they are the right person for you, and it’s also the right decision for them,” explains Benne. “Even though someone may seem trustworthy, you don’t know what’s going on in their life—make sure it’s a good decision for them, too. It also doesn’t hurt to work with an attorney to have another set of eyes on your accounts and decisions.”
Sign up for direct deposit
Direct deposit allows your money to be deposited directly into your account without having to receive any checks in the mail. Direct deposit offers a fast and safe way for you to receive money during retirement—like your pension or social security—without having to go to the bank to deposit the money yourself. Even if you are receiving direct deposit, you still want to make sure that you are checking your account each month to see that you are receiving the full amount you are entitled to receive. If you notice an error, be sure to contact your bank right away.
“Direct deposit is an efficient program that can eliminate obstacles or hassles—especially for seniors that have physical limitations or disabilities. Always important to double check statements for accuracy—at the end of the day, it’s your responsibility to check your accounts to ensure they are accurate.”
Keeping your account information safe is a full-time job. Do you have additional questions regarding your account security? Contact Two Rivers Bank & Trust today—we’d be happy to talk with you and answer any of your questions!