Finn slapped the pile of envelopes on the kitchen table and grunted at his wife, Lola.
She peered at him over her coffee mug and gestured toward the pile. “What’s this?”
“Credit card bills. For Mom and Dad.”
Lola frowned. “How is that possible? We have responsibility for their financial affairs. We pay all of their bills. They live in Assisted Living, for God’s sake. We pay for their groceries and other basic needs. We even give them a pre-loaded debit card that we refill each month. When and how did they get credit cards?”
Finn sighed. “I don’t know. The bills just showed up in their mailbox. They have no credit cards in their wallets or any other place in their apartment. I checked. They also have no memory of applying for the cards or buying anything with them. They don’t even have a checkbook to pay the bills.”
“Did they give their Social Security number to anyone? Maybe to someone on staff?”
Finn shook his head. “They said they didn’t and my Dad was pretty adamant about it. He said he gave us financial control for a reason, so they couldn’t be victimized like this. My parents are really upset.”
“Sounds like a case of identity fraud. Maybe we should have done a better job of monitoring their credit report. Now we need to get this mess cleaned up. Someone got access to their personal information and we need to find out who. We need to get the police involved.”
Finn nodded. “I wish there was a way I could easily monitor their finances. All of their day-to-day bills are sent to me, but if I hadn’t intercepted those credit card bills, I wouldn’t have known about them for a while. Dad would have thrown them away.”
Lola nodded. “With them living 60 miles away, it’s almost impossible to monitor their financial activities 24/7. We need to find a better way.”
According to the National Council on Aging, between $2.9 million to $36.5 billion is lost each year to elder financial abuse. Known cases of fraud involving seniors topped 25,000 in 2018. With approximately 10,000 Baby Boomers reaching retirement age each day, the problem is expected to grow exponentially.
However, the financial technology or FinTech industry has taken note. It has begun to focus on the problem, offering phone and computer apps, that will permit elders and their adult children to monitor finances, even from a distance.
- EverSafe. An account-monitoring tool, EverSafe oversees bank and investment accounts, credit cards, and credit data for individuals and family members, and issues alerts when irregularities occur. The app’s “trusted advocate” tool permits adult children of aging parents, caregivers, and other professionals to further monitor account activity, serving as an “extra set of eyes” to identify instances of fraud and financial exploitation. More information about EverSafe is located at https://www.eversafe.com.
- True Link Financial, Inc. The company offers a prepaid Visa debit card for seniors, people with special needs, and those recovering from addiction. The cards can be customized to limit the amount of money spent and the type of purchases made. For example, a card may authorize purchases made at a specific grocery store or gas station, and block those charges from telemarketers. Information about True Link prepaid credit cards is available at https://www.truelinkfinancial.com.
- Everplans. An online estate planning tool, Everplans provides a virtual vault for storage of financial, legal, healthcare, and other personal information, such as wills, Powers of Attorney, Advance Directives, passwords, and funeral plans. Vault owners appoint Deputies, who can access the information in the vault when needed. More information about this service is available at https://www.everplans.com.
- Economic Checkup. Sponsored by the National Council of Aging, this tool offers assistance in creating a budget, managing retirement accounts, and finding ways to cut spending. The tool also identifies resources available for maximizing retirement funds, such as increasing income, finding part-time employment, and/or ways to save on primary expenses, such as senior discounts. Information is available at https://www.economiccheckup.org/.
- Mint.Com. A personal financial management tool, this app allows users to integrate and monitor all financial accounts, and track spending and account balances, as well as budget priorities. The app offers suggestions on cutting expenses, alerts users when it’s time to pay bills or when account funds are low, and offers regular credit checks, as well as alerts for suspected security breaches. For more information, visit https://www.mint.com.
- Prism. The app assists users with tracking monthly bills, ensuring prompt payment, and monitoring account balances to prevent overspending. The app permits users to consolidate and pay bills at one location. Because the app focuses on one function—bill paying—it is considered easier to use than multifunction apps. More information is available at https://www.prismmoney.com/.
We do not endorse or recommend any of these apps – you must do your own investigation. However, we do want to pass this information along. Some of these apps are free. Others charge a service fee. However, your financial institution, financial advisors, insurance company, fraternal organization, and/or senior groups may offer similar apps free to customers or members. Talk to each to determine what apps are available and which ones meet your specific needs.