In this week’s edition of Monday Morning Quarter-Buck, we honor our #GorgeousGrandmas. I remember talking to my grandma when I was a little girl - she had so much wisdom and a wealth of knowledge! We hope you enjoy this edition and we’d love to hear your #GorgeousGrandma stories!
By: Kim Anderson, CPA
Fargo, North Dakota
July 23, 2019 is National Gorgeous Grandma Day, so let the world know how gorgeous your Grandma truly is by posting pictures of you two having a blast. Be sure to tag the photo with #GorgeousGrandma.
My gorgeous Grandma was born in 1910 in Lone Rock, Iowa and passed away in 2006. She lost my grandpa in 1977 which means she spent the next 29 years as a widow. Her Social Security checks were around $400 per month so she didn’t have much in the way of liquid assets, though she did own a house, 360 acres of land, and some farm machinery. She would occasionally receive phone calls from people she thought were up to no good, but she knew enough to hang up the phone before they could speak more than two words. Because of her sound mind and ability to hear well up until she moved into a nursing home, she kept a skeptical mind when strangers called or came to visit. To the best of my knowledge, no stranger was ever able to exploit or otherwise take advantage of her. She was the best Grandma anyone could ask for (and she was really smart too)!
For some of us, our #GorgeousGrandma family members are not so fortunate. The U.S. Department of Justice has an “Elder Justice Initiative” page which gives information on Senior Scam Alerts and provides an Elder Abuse Resource Roadmap. There is also a section listing ways that we can get involved to help our #Gorgeous Grandma from becoming a victim. The National Council on Aging (www.ncoa.org) has a list of the Top 10 Financial Scams Targeting Seniors that is worth reading and www.SeniorLiving.org has an abundance of information on the topic of Elder Fraud & Abuse.
We’d like to think that our Grandma is “smart enough” not to fall for any scam but if you have a Grandma like mine who is thoughtful and kind, it’s hard to say “NO”. A favorite scam of scammers is when someone calls your Grandma and tells them he/she is their grandchild, is stranded far away from home, and could Grandma please wire money so the “grandchild” can get home. How can thoughtful and kind Grandma say “no” to such a desperate request? When I was working as a Bank Examiner, an employee at a bank we visited stopped the financial exploitation of an elderly woman by noticing the unusual activity in her bank account then talking to the woman’s son about what may be going on.
It’s important that each of us do our part to protect our #GorgeousGrandma, but because scammers, fraudsters, and close relatives (yes, even they can take advantage of your Grandma) are always coming up with new and innovative ways of financial exploitation, we need the help of law enforcement. On June 13, 2019, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the creation of the Transnational Elder Fraud Strike Force. Prior to the announcement of the strike force, the DOJ conducted massive elder fraud sweeps in 2018 and 2019. The historic elder fraud sweeps revealed useful information about the types of foreign-based fraud schemes that disproportionately affect American seniors. As a consequence, the new strike force will focus on the following three types of elder fraud schemes: mass-mailing fraud, tech-support fraud and telemarketing fraud.
If you are concerned about the cognitive ability of your #GorgeousGrandma (or your Handsome Grandpa), Rooted Planning Group offers a Whealthcare Financial Caretaking assessment wherein we can help you monitor the reasoning abilities of your living treasures so that they don’t end up a victim of scammers. Contact us and we will help you determine if this assessment is right for you.
Since we are celebrating Gorgeous Grandma Day, help keep her safe and sound by learning the basics of elder fraud & financial exploitation and keep a keen eye out for red flags. And don’t forget – post that picture of you two having fun!