Imagine receiving an email saying that you have won a new washer and dryer in a local competition. You only need to pay a small shipping fee to get your equipment. Sounds great, doesn’t it?
Unfortunately, this scenario has multiple signs of financial exploitation.
Financial exploitation occurs when someone illegally or inappropriately acquires the assets of a vulnerable person through a scam. It can also be through theft, fraud, intimidation or unwarranted influence. According to the Federal Trade Commission, scammers stole about 3 3.3 billion in 2020.* There are countless – often credible – ways in which bridal artists cheat people out of money. They can set up a fake dating profile, then ask for money for “emergencies”. Government agencies like some IRS are disguised and threaten to arrest the victim if they do not pay the fee. Retirees are often targeted because of their accumulated wealth, but scammers find people of all ages.
Read the details of the general scandal.
We are here to educate you about financial exploitation and to protect your assets.
Look for warning signs
Although each scandal is different, there is a common red flag that indicates a request is fake, such as:
Vanguard’s security center
- Asking you to pay money or taxes in advance to get a gift or reward.
- If you declare that you have won a contest, you will not remember to enter.
- You will be pressured to “work now” or for a contract, gift or reward.
- Tells you to keep details secret and not share them with anyone.
- You are being given a script to follow when calling your bank or financial institution.
- Misspellings of basic words or use of weak grammar in communication.
- Expressing strong emotions for you after a little interaction (common in romance scandals).
Set up a trusted contact
To protect your resources, make a plan while you are in good health. Start talking to a trusted family member, professional or friend about your desire for your money. Naming a trusted contact to your account may provide additional protection by:
- Allowing us to reach out to anyone You believe If we are concerned about your welfare or believe that you are being financially exploited.
- Help us identify and contact your Power of Attorney or legal guardian.
- If you develop a medical condition, especially a form of dementia like Alzheimer’s disease, and we are no longer able to protect your interests, let us know to help make sure.
We recommend choosing someone who will be able to give you an informed assessment of your condition, well-being and health status. Also, consider the name of the person who cannot transact in your account to help ensure objectivity. If you haven’t already, consider working with an attorney to build the attorney’s financial capacity.
Protect the weak
Scammers often target the elderly, teenagers, and the mentally handicapped. To keep your risky loved ones safe, look for warning signs such as:
- Unexplained large or excessive withdrawal.
- Confidentiality surrounding the need for additional funding.
- Extreme urgency about the need for money.
- Sudden changes in financial documents such as a will or power of attorney.
- Sudden change in bank or financial account.
If you believe that your loved one has been the victim of financial abuse, contact their financial institution immediately. Also consider filing a report with local law enforcement or adult protection services. If your loved one is already disabled and does not have a financial power attorney, consult with an estate planning attorney to discuss options such as applying to a court for guardianship or conservatism.
Follow these best practices to avoid potential scams:
- Never send money to someone you don’t know well. Stop contacting someone immediately who wants money from you.
- Talk to an expert at your bank or vanguard if you suspect fraud.
- Never provide personal information such as your address, social security number, or bank information.
- Don’t click on email or popup links. Instead, go to official websites, such as IRS.gov, and find their contact numbers.
- For fraudulent scams – which usually tell you that a payment has been delayed or compromised with your account – go to the company’s website to check notifications and log in to your account.
- Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, hang on or leave.
- Do your own research or consult with your beliefs before you act.
Anyone can be a victim of financial exploitation. Even tragic, it can be in the hands of a family member, friend or caregiver. We want to help you stay in control and help you as you take care of vulnerable loved ones. This is why we are here to protect your hard earned investment.
* Source: Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Information 2020
All investments are at risk, including the potential loss of money you invest.
Please note that trusted contacts do not apply to 403 (b) accounts, most 529 accounts, annuities and institutional accounts.
“Learn the Signs of Financial Exploitation”,