We have witnessed far too many cases of elder abuse in the form of financial abuse. While it seems that family members and loved ones have become quite vigilant when it comes to elder abuse within the healthcare facilities, long term care facilities, or in-home care providers, I would argue that there is a rampant epidemic of Financial Elder Abuse that is relatively unchecked. Some of these abuses come in the form of scams perpetrated over the phone, when the abusers trick the elderly into wiring money or divulging personal information such as social security numbers, credit card information, or bank account information, which is then used to steal directly from the elderly. But a more subtle, under-reported, form of financial abuse is going on within the timeshare industry, for example. Recently, we heard of a story where a couple had become very distraught over the fact that they had been more or less “scammed” into a timeshare debt that they were too embarrassed to admit to the advisor for quite a while. The timeshare representatives had continually gotten them to trade up on their timeshare, being told several times over that they really did not have the package they thought had been purchased. The high-pressure sales tactics used on the 70+ year old investors went on for sometimes 8 hour stretches, until they were finally so worn down, that they were willing to sign almost anything to get on with their “vacation.” In the end, they have a mortgage that is almost assuredly upside down by over $100,000 and a monthly payment due of over $1,500 and no room in the budget to pay it!
We have a suggestion for all of our clients, or anyone who is presented with a proposal or concern that involves any feelings of being pressured to “sign on the dotted line” or “send money now”:
Tell the marketer, or caller, that you have to make two calls before you ever spend or send this kind of money (assuming your spouse or significant other is with you already). First, you have a financial advisor who insists on helping you decide if this investment helps you achieve your financial goals or puts you farther from them. And second, you have an attorney who insists on reviewing any contract you sign before you sign it to avoid having to fight about it later.
If the marketer is proposing a relevant, honest, quality investment, your financial advisor and attorney will help you consummate the deal on terms that are at least neutral. If the marketer is mostly just scamming you out of your hard earned money, they will object vehemently and probably move on to an easier victim, much like a thief who will prey on the house in the neighborhood who doesn’t have a watchdog. And you need to realize, your hard earned nest egg is far too precious to allow scammers to pressure you, sweet talk you, and cheat you out of the future for which you’ve saved.
At Swisher Financial Concepts, we want to assist our clients with questions such as these BEFORE they become a problem. We are equipped to help analyze the financial details of most investments, and if we don’t feel comfortable answering the questions, we will help assemble a team of experts. It is far less expensive to perform the due diligence up front, than to put on a legal fight later.