Financial abuse and crimes against older Americans can come in many unforeseen forms. Among them are third-party online scams, unauthorized withdrawals by a caregiver, businesses taking advantage of vulnerabilities, or illegal debits. The fact of the matter is that as the average American population gets older, the average $320 of annual fraud per 65+ citizen will worsen.

The opportunities to take advantage of our at-risk senior bank customers is becoming more prevalent, and we at WMB are here to help. This blog is meant to empower customers and communities with the facts, tools, and advice they need to bank more securely.

Identifying and Avoiding Scams
Scammers on the internet will often portray themselves as a family member, charity, a government official, or someone offering computer assistance. When payment is requested, it is important to research the credibility of the individual or organization making the request. Most scams are accessed via email or pop-up ads that can often look legitimate. Learning to err on the side of safety will prevent such scamming. As a general rule, never transfer money or give personal financial information to anyone other than a trusted caregiver, banker, or business.

Protecting Your Assets by Preventing Identity Theft
Identity theft is a growing problem today, but there are many steps you can take to protect your identity and associated assets. From using strong usernames and passwords, to staying aware of where you share your information - common sense is a valuable rule of thumb. If you feel your information may be in jeopardy, check twice (or more) before continuing to make the purchase, create accounts, etc.

Choosing a Financial Caregiver
This is a very personal step, as the decision you make here relies completely on your trust in the caregiver. The caregiver must be financially responsible, understanding of your circumstances and be aware of what assets and information are associated with your financial well-being. The individual(s) must also be able to communicate financial information to and between the you and your financial advisors (bankers, lawyers, financial advisors).

Beginning this month, focus on how you can help protect yourself and/or older family members that are subject to financial fraud. Please don’t hesitate to contact WMB if you have questions or concerns – we are happy to help!