Seniors learn warning signs of financial abuse |

Seniors learn warning signs of financial abuse

George Boardman

Seniors control 70 percent of the wealth in the United States, making them inviting targets for financial abuse, a retired FBI agent told attendees at a seminar on “Protecting Your Assets” Friday in Nevada City.

“You can’t protect yourself entirely from attempts to get your money,” said Ed Kirkley, the retired agent who specialized in white color crime, “but you can make yourself the smallest target possible.”

Kirkley was one of four speakers who addressed an audience of 160 – most of them seniors – on how to detect and prevent financial abuse. The event was organized by seven financial institutions in western Nevada County.

Randy Katsura, vice president/risk manager of Placer Sierra Bancshares, said banks and credit unions are training their employees to recognize the warnings signs of financial abuse, a problem that will grow as the population ages.

“We recognize we are on the front line to detect financial abuse, and we are committed to detecting and reporting it,” he said. “We’re not trying to alarm anybody, but the more you know and the more we communicate, the better.

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“Don’t be offended if a bank employee asks you about an unusual transaction, or if you’re with somebody, if we ask to speak to you alone,” Katsura added.

“But we can’t stop a transaction based on just suspicion.”

Kirkley said investment fraud is the “most difficult thing to protect yourself against,” but red flags a person can look for include:

– Unreasonable return on the investment.

– An investment that doesn’t make sense.

– Pressure to make a decision right now.

– An investment designed to take advantage of special tax loopholes.

Kirkley said seniors can protect themselves by ignoring telephone solicitations (34 percent of complaints come from seniors) and being careful with their credit cards (42 percent of identity theft involves obtaining a credit card in somebody else’s name).

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