My friend Beth mentioned that she was concerned with potential scam artists trying to take advantage of her parents. Her parents are in their 80’s and starting to show short-term memory loss. As a result, they sometimes get confused when bills come and don’t always pay them or pay them twice. They are also vulnerable to getting their online accounts hacked because they log in only occasionally and tend to use insecure passwords, i.e. ones they can remember. Or they tape their passwords to the front of their computers where any unscrupulous caregiver can steal them.
Things You Can Do
So, here are some suggestions for how to deal with your loved ones’ money:
- Set up all of their bills on autopay.
- Have direct deposit set up for their retirement, long term care insurance or other income.
- Use a single credit card for payment at any given merchant, that way if the account gets hacked, you won’t need to get all new credit cards.
- Have all bills and bank statements set for electronic delivery.
- Add your email address on all of their accounts.
- Set up notifications for large transactions on credit cards and bank accounts.
- Ensure access to bank accounts to make deposits or just monitor transactions. You may need to have signature authority on their bank accounts.
- A general power of attorney may not allow bank account control. Often, banks want their own POA form filled out and signed. It is best to confirm this ahead of needing it.
- If you handle your loved one’s money or property, keep a detailed record of everything you do with dates and amounts.
- Be sure their passwords for bank accounts are secure.
- Be sure you can log into frequently used accounts like utilities and Amazon to make sure they are secure.
- Put your phone number as a recovery number on their accounts so you can immediately log in and change passwords if any accounts are hacked.
Still, Beth told me, her parents want their money managed, but they want to see all of the transactions for themselves. This can be a slippery slope because in many cases, her parents may not understand the explanations of what is going on relative to their money. Keep in mind as people get older, they can become distrustful and think everyone is trying to steal from them, even their loved ones. You must admit you do hear frequently about people stealing from their parents, so the fears aren’t that far fetched.
Are Your Parents Targets?
Also, your parents could be targeted by scam artists or simply forget what they did with their money. A few years ago, my father-in-law got a call from someone pretending to be my son. The caller said he was in jail in Las Vegas and he needed grandpa to wire him some money and not tell us. Fortunately, my father-in-law didn’t fall for it and called us right away. But, we have all heard about cases like this.
Keeping all of this in mind, I wished my friend luck. In my experience, money is the most emotionally charged thing to deal with and has the potential to do considerable damage to your relationship with your loved ones. So, take things slowly and have patience.
Have you had experiences around money management that you can share?