TDCI Shares Tips on Protecting Seniors Ahead of Elder Abuse Awareness Day (June 15, 2023)
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has declared Thursday, June 15, 2023, as Elder Abuse Awareness Day in Tennessee.
In support of Governor Lee’s proclamation, the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance (“TDCI”) is joining other state agencies in a combined effort to fight elder abuse by highlighting the importance of learning the red flags that might indicate fraud or elder financial abuse.
“The lives and livelihoods of Tennessee’s seniors should be protected from bad actors and scammers who mean to do them harm,” said TDCI Commissioner Carter Lawrence. “I am proud to join Governor Lee in order to help highlight the importance of protecting the dignity and financial independence of Tennessee’s elder population. Any Tennessee senior, loved one, or caregiver who has questions when it comes to their investments or insurance policies should contact our team so that we may provide assistance.”
To assist senior investors and their loved ones, TDCI is sharing tips on establishing a trusted contact and ways to avoid identity theft.
Establishing a Trusted Contact
To combat potential investment fraud from occurring, TDCI’s Securities Division is urging senior financial investors to provide their financial firms with a trusted contact.
A trusted contact may be a family member, attorney, accountant, or another third party who you believe would respect your privacy and know how to handle that responsibility. One or more trusted contacts may be established.
“A trusted contact is a person who is authorized to contact your financial firm in limited circumstances, such as if the firm has a concern about activity in your account and has been unable to get in touch with you,” said TDCI Assistant Commissioner for the Securities Division Elizabeth Bowling. “We strongly encourage all Tennessee investors to contact their financial firms and name a trusted contact today.”
Having one or more trusted contacts provides another layer of safety on your account and puts your financial firm in a better position to help keep your account safe. Naming someone as a trusted contact does not give that person the authority to act on your behalf, execute transactions, or reengage in activity in your account.
Instead, a trusted contact may be asked to confirm your current contact information, health status, or the identity of any legal guardian, executor, trustee, or holder of a power of attorney. U.S. broker-dealers are required to provide a written disclosure that explains these details.
If you do decide to name a trusted contact, you will want to reach out your trusted contact in advance to let them know.
Avoiding Identity Theft Scams
Scammers frequently target seniors for identity theft. To prevent identity theft scams, remember:
- Never buy an insurance policy, make an investment, or give money to a stranger who contacts you or visits you unannounced.
- Shred all paperwork containing any identifying information, healthcare information, banking information, or passwords.
- Monitor bank and credit card statements.
- Monitor your credit report.
- Use direct deposit for benefit checks to prevent checks from being stolen.
- Never give your credit card, banking, Social Security number, Medicare number, or other personal information over the phone, unless you initiated the call.
- If someone calls you and threatens you with arrest or harm unless you pay them via wire transfer or a gift card, hang up immediately. You’re dealing with a scammer. Report the call to your local law enforcement agency.
- Make sure your insurance agent or investment adviser is licensed to work in Tennessee before doing business with them. Visit tn.gov/commerce for details.
Other types of elder abuse involving abuse, neglect, or exploitation should be reported to the Tennessee Department of Human Services, Adult Protective Services Unit by phone at (888) 277-8366 or online, or, if there is immediate danger, to local law enforcement.