Macatawa and Wintrust Announcement
Elderly woman with happy caregiver 

Preventing elder abuse


7 Tips to help choose a caregiver.

Almost 90 percent of the financial abuse committed against older Americans is at the hands of someone they know & trust, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse.  Use these seven tips to help choose the right financial caregiver and prevent elder financial abuse:

1. Only appoint someone you really trust to make financial decisions. If you are not able to manage your finances, carefully select a trustworthy person to act as your agent in all financial matters.

2. Know who is in your home. Conduct a background check on all individuals you hire for personal care or home care services. Check references &  credentials before you let anyone in your personal space.

3. Never sign anything that you do not understand. Check with a financial advisor or attorney before signing anything that seems suspicious or unclear.

4. Understand assigning a Power of Attorney (POA).  When you grant someone POA, it gives them the authority to make decisions and act on your behalf, including managing and accessing your bank and other financial accounts. Before you do anything, make sure you completely understand the terms and conditions of consenting a legal agent.

5. Always trust your instincts.  Manipulators and abusers are very skilled. They can be very charming and or forceful when trying to exploit. Don't get fooled – if something doesn't feel quite right, it might not be.

6. Keep your personal information safe. Shred old bills, junk mail, bank statements & any other personal documents you don't need. Leaving unwanted personal documents around might lead to the misuse of your information. If you have keepsake documents, you should store them in a locked cabinet or safe deposit box at your bank.

7. Keep important personal items out of plain sight. Remember to lockup checkbooks, credit cards, and money to help prevent unauthorized use.

Don’t fall victim to the grandparent scam

In 2016, the Federal Trade Commission received more than 400,000 complaints from consumers reporting that they were exposed to impersonation scams. The "grandparent scam" is one scam that deliberately targets older Americans.

With this scam, fraudsters call claiming to be a family member in serious trouble and need money immediately. The scammer might say he's stranded or mugged and call in the middle of the night to add to the urgency and confusion. After the money is sent, the victim later finds out it was a criminal and not their grandchild they were helping.

1.  Confirm the caller. Fraudsters use social media sites to gain personal information of friends and relatives to carry out their crimes.  Before acting on any request, verify the caller by checking with a trusted family member or by calling them back at a known number.

2.  Ask lots of questions. Fraudsters want to complete their crimes quickly. With this type of scam, they count on fear and your concern for your loved one to make you act before you think. The more questions you ask, the more apt they will be to ditch the scam if they suspect you're on to them.

3.  Never give any personal information to anyone over the phone unless you have initiated the call and the other party is trusted.

4.  Don't be fooled.  Never rush into financial decisions and trust your gut instincts; if something doesn't feel right, it might not be right. Feel free to say no and always get more information before you send money to anyone.



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