Asset Retention: Easier Said Than Done

We are going to take a little sidestep from our focus on housing to reinforce the importance of retention of assets and sense of personal agency when building an aging-in-place life plan. 

Lunch Lesson for Living

My childhood friend and I were meeting her aunt for a long-planned lunch downtown. The aunt had been a real role model for each of us: Smart, sharply dressed woman who was the go-to person, the connector among influential leaders in government and the arts. The way she carried herself and spoke with authority and wit gave you confidence and direction. 

This day a different and unfamiliar woman met us. She slumped into her chair and announced she had been scammed. She had hurriedly given a caller her ATM information after being told about an impending cancellation of critically important insurance. The details didn’t matter. It was the impact of the mistake that was jolting. 

The rest of our lunch conversation was devoted to my friend and me reminding our “shero” about her accomplishments, earned reputation and skills as a strategist. She wasn’t senile, but she was exhausted from caregiving for her terminally ill husband. She wasn’t stupid, but she was caught off-guard while multi-tasking on a busy morning. Her embarrassment needed to be replaced with anger and action, a formula that had served her well all her life and a lesson she had taught us as teens. 

Make Victim a Moment, Not a Lifestyle

Each year, between 5 and 7 million older adults — aged 65-plus — are victims of scams. And they lose some $27 billion in damages, according to a Comparitech study. Recognizing the types of fraud and taking action can be good protection from being a victim of a scam.

Ironically, 2018 data from the Federal Trade Commission shows that adults 60 and over actually are 20 percent less likely than younger adults to fall for scams. But when seniors do fall for scams, they often lose more money than their younger counterparts.

A scam deprives you of hard-earned money that had been targeted for a constructive use. We shouldn’t let it rob us of our sense of self-worth, confidence and commitment to building an aging-in-place life plan. 

Avoid Being Scammed: Be Difficult and Take Your Time

There are articles in newspapers, special reports, and online that land in front of us each week. Glance at the scammer stories regularly ­— these folks are endlessly creative. Just keep a general awareness and talk about the problem with friends and family. In addition to the tips you’ll come across through these activities, keep the following points in mind:

  • Logos Cannot Be Trusted ­— Message from Microsoft, Facebook, AT&T, Amazon are just a few businesses in the last month that clever scammers have used to send what look like genuine notices with familiar logos to get account information from me and other unsuspecting users.
  • Don’t Rush — Be difficult. Take lots of time to assess the situation. Have a follow-up call that you initiate rather than the eager “agent” on the other end of the phone.
  • Double Check Email Sender — What is the full name or digital address of the sender? At quick glance it may say “customer service” or something as innocuous, but another tap and you see the true sender is an odd name, strange domain, or some numbers.

Recover from Being Scammed

So what do you do if you’ve fallen prey to a scammer? First off, stop communication with the scammer. Immediately call your bank or other financial institutions and request they freeze your accounts (or in the case of sensitive information theft, notify the appropriate institutions, e.g., social security and Medicare). Additionally, report the fraud to the FTC. Finally, contact a family member or friend you trust for support — don’t be too embarrassed to reach out for the help you need.

When you are making plans that will shape how you are going live as you age, you have the opportunity to be selfish … in a good way. A priority is to know and manage your financial resources. Then ask yourself what are the things, experiences, places and people of most importance to you. Do not let a scammer experience derail or compromise this analysis and planning process. Be angry, yes, and own it, but use the rage to energize your mission to build the right aging-in-place plan for you

Have you had an experience with a scamming that could help others? Share your experience or tip in the Comments section below.   

Next week’s blog will explore financial and housing options that can help lead to a fulfilling Third Chapter of life!

Third Chapter Living celebrates, challenges, informs and promotes conversations about housing issues affecting the Baby Boomer Generation. Our Facebook Group is a resource center with tips and recommendations on navigating those issues. Share experiences with others who are looking for Housing Downsizing Tools that allow them to successfully age in place. Become a part of this group. You can also visit our website.

6 Comments

  1. Sue Stockard on June 27, 2022 at 7:28 am

    Excellent and important information. Thank you!

    • Leonard E. Mc Gee on June 27, 2022 at 8:41 am

      Great read for me. This will be shared.
      The article was soft and written well.
      Shalom

  2. John Zeisel on June 27, 2022 at 10:45 am

    Could you please indicate the links to click or pone numbers to call (that you mention in the blog) to report scammers. Then when we save this article we have some ready avenues to employ.

    • Barb Powell on August 5, 2022 at 7:52 pm

      John, you can always tell the links because they are in blue. Thanks!

  3. Kolu on June 27, 2022 at 11:41 pm

    Thank you Reese – such an importsnt issue. This is what law enforcement should be tracking down. Like identity theft, scams can happen to anyone, but those with dementia are more vulnerable.

    My mother was scammed out of several thousand dollars a few years ago by someone she had spoken to over the phone a number of times before the actual theft took place. It happened under the guise of tech support. After reaching her by phone they got her email address. They then got her to allow them to “look for bugs” on her computer and she innocently gave them access…Thankfully, she alerted us fairly early due to feeling worried. My dad was justifiably angered, as was I. What was she thinking! Feeling confused, guilty, and humiliated, she fell into a depression (which she eventually climbed out of). Later we realized her vulnerability was an early sign of Alzheimers.

    A closer look at her bank statements revealed that she had been taken advantage of by legitimate nonprofits as well – they got her to sign up for monthly contributions rather than the one-time contribution she thought she was making.

    At first I would anger each time she seemed to ignore warnings about how to avoid scams. But really she simply could not remember. Eventually we took her off social media and the Internet all together.

    • Reese Fayde on June 29, 2022 at 4:16 pm

      Kolu,
      Thank you for sharing your difficult personal experiences. Your post is a cautionary tale for us all. We are all so vulnerable on so many fronts and in so many ways.

      The attacks on bank accounts, internet access, and the like, seem most often to come at the targeted victim with a real urgency to act. The “subscriptions” are cloaked in promises of convenience. It is hard to remember or get loved ones to remember that the first and most important action should be to stall, and take time rather than action.

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