Keeping Your Bank Accounts Safe from Fraud

dv816013_LR1Research Company Gartner Inc. estimates that two million people in the United States have had money stolen from their bank accounts in the past year. A growing number of victims of such financial exploitation are also seniors.  Though fraud is often committed by a complete stranger, it is unfortunately very common for seniors to be taken advantage of by their own family and caregivers.

According to the National Association for Professional Geriatric Care Managers, some indicators of potential senior financial abuse include:

  • Someone is responsible for paying bills for the senior, but the bills are not paid and there are not adequate resources to pay for them.
  • Unexplained money missing from the senior’s accounts.
  • Family member/caregiver withdrawing large amounts of money from accounts.
  • Someone taking money under false pretenses.
  • Forgery.
  • Seniors are forced to make property transfers or transfers that are completed through lies or deceit.

Online banking has become more popular in the recent years and so there are a few precautionary tips for both standard banking and online banking.

To protect standard bank accounts, statements should be read immediately and deposit and withdraws should be analyzed to ensure that no suspicious activity is occurring.  Your statements and checkbooks should never be left out in the open, especially if you have a caregiver around. With your ATM card, never lend it to people or share you PIN number. Be cautious when using your ATM card, making sure to shield your transaction from people who may be observing you without your knowledge. Keep your statements in a secure location and shred old ones. When giving someone a check, never leave it blank for the individuals to fill out themselves. Also, be the initiator when speaking with your bank. Sometimes people will call and identify themselves as your bank. In these cases, hang up and call the bank back yourself. Know that your bank will never call you and ask you for private information, such as your account number.

For online banking, make sure to log onto your account regularly to monitor your transactions and check for accuracy. Restrict your online banking activity to your private home and not in a public setting such as a coffee shop. Just as with a standard banking system, if your bank calls you and requests information, hang up and call back yourself to make sure it isn’t a fraud. Another trick is to check that your connection is secure. A good way to do this is to make sure the banks website starts with “https.” It is also recommended that you change your password a few times a year and install software barriers like firewalls and anti-virus.

Most banks offer special banking opportunities for people 60 and over. Ask your bank about their offerings for senior citizens. A little caution will go a long way to keep your money safe.


Take a Trip to Trace Your Family Roots

In recent years, exploring family history and people’s heritage has become a trend that travel agencies and genealogical experts are taking advantage of. The term coined for these endeavors is referred to as “Genealogical Tourism.” Many people, particularly seniors, are planning trips specifically to visit the places they were born or where their ancestors were born. Due to the growing number of individuals taking these tours, many European countries have utilized genealogical experts in their hotels and lodging to assist  guests that are searching for their heritage.

Previously, vacations and traveling were mostly about getting a break from normal life. Now however, this new trend of trip planning to search out ancestry is providing more enriching travel opportunities.

When tracing your family tree there are some obvious resources you can utilize such as simply asking your family members for information and rummaging through old family documents. There are however other great resources available to speed up this task. Some include:

If you’re thinking about planning one of these genealogical tours, follows some of these basic tips:

  1. First and foremost, research well. It’s important that you keep organized notes as you gather information. The better the notes, the more valuable the trip. You also want to research the cities and map out where you want to go and then check to see if those locations are holding any sort of interesting events around the time of your visit.
  2. Secondly, think about who you would like to travel with. Though it is largely up to personal preference, generally speaking it is more fun and safe with a greater number of people. If family and friends aren’t a good option for you, there are many group tours available to consider.
  3. Third, hire the right travel company that specializes in genealogical trips for seniors. Be very detailed and transparent about what your expectations and desires are so that they know what sort of plan fits you best.
  4. Lastly, be aware that as a senior you need to be very prepared for a safe trip. Make sure you have enough medicine to last you the entire trip, plus extra. A safe amount to bring would be the amount needed for the length of your trip plus seven extra days. Carry around the name and number of an emergency contact as well as a list of you health conditions and medications you use.

Now it’s time to enjoy your trip, learn more about your family roots and experience a vacation you will never forget!