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Protect yourself from financial exploitation

Last modified: May 20, 2021

Understand how to protect yourself or an older adult in your life from financial exploitation. Anyone can fall victim. But people ages 60 or older, and disabled adults, are especially at risk.

A growing problem

Financial abuse of older adults—ages 60 and older—has become a growing problem in the U.S. as the population ages. We all grow older. As we do, it’s important to protect the financial assets we built through the years. Financial exploitation happens when someone’s assets are taken by a stranger, family member or friend for their own personal benefit.

Who is at risk?

Financial abuse can happen to anyone. In fact, 16% of U.S adults reported being the victim of fraud in a survey by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Older adults (ages 60 and up) and disabled adults are especially at risk.

Risk factors that can make someone more vulnerable to financial abuse include memory loss and cognitive decline. Older adults can be at risk when these health issues first start—even before they’re diagnosed. Social isolation and undue influence (from a family member who controls part of your life) can also increase the likelihood of financial abuse.

Common scams that affect older adults

According to a 2020 report by the FTC—which is tasked with consumer protection—the following scams resulted in the highest losses for older consumers in 2019:

  • An impersonator (including government imposter scams, romance scams and grandchild impersonators).
  • Sweepstakes, prizes and lotteries.
  • Tech support scams.

Scammers often call older adults on the phone to defraud them. Consumers ages 80 and older reported the highest median losses to the FTC in 2019.

Reported phone scams resulted in a median loss of $3,500 for consumers ages 80 and older.
U.S. Federal Trade Commission

How to prevent financial exploitation

Be alert

Most people think, “that will never happen to me.” But we all age. And it’s tough to know how it will affect us and those around us. Health issues and cognitive decline can happen to anyone. Learn what identity theft, phishing and other types of fraud look like. Build good habits to protect yourself. Doing things as simple as shredding your mail and not sharing bank information with someone who calls on the phone can go a long way.

Take action: Name a trusted contact person

Make it hard for fraudsters to steal from you or your loved ones. Name a trusted contact person to help us respond quickly if we suspect a problem. Download the trusted contact form.

Designate your trusted contact today

What is a trusted contact?

Why name a trusted contact?
Having a trusted contact person on file adds another level of security to your financial accounts. Someday, due to aging or a change in health, you may not be able to manage your finances like you do today. A trusted contact would serve as a resource for our investigation team in the event we are concerned about your health, well-being or welfare, or suspect possible exploitation. Adding a trusted contact to your accounts is recommended.

Learn more about why Thrivent is asking you for a trusted contact

FINRA, SEC and NASAA have teamed up to release a promotional video and fact sheet to explain the importance of naming a trusted contact. See links below.
What does a trusted contact do?
Having a trusted contact on file helps us act quickly. If we suspect financial exploitation, or if diminished capacity may be putting you or your finances at risk, we’ll contact the person you named. We take the privacy of your information very seriously. Naming someone as your trusted contact does not give that person authority to access your accounts or make transactions on your behalf. Your trusted contact does not have power of attorney (unless you’ve granted them that through other legal documents). If you do have a power of attorney document, we would suggest you have a copy of this document on file with Thrivent, in addition to naming a trusted contact.
When would we contact this person?
Industry regulations allow us to communicate with your trusted contact when we have concerns that you may be the victim of financial exploitation. Or if we have a reasonable concern about your mental or physical well-being. In some situations, we may try contacting you, the account owner. In other situations, our team may get in touch with your trusted contact to:
  • Discuss possible red flags that might indicate you’re being financially exploited.
  • Confirm your health status if we suspect a physical or cognitive health issue.
  • Confirm your current contact information if we’re unable to reach you after repeated attempts.
  • Confirm the identity of any legal guardian, executor, trustee or holder of a power of attorney.
  • Address other limited circumstances, when permitted by law.

What to do if financial exploitation happens

Alert Thrivent and law enforcement to suspected or known financial exploitation. The following links include a fraud and identify theft resolution checklist.

Report fraud to Thrivent

Report fraud to law enforcement

For more information about scams and fraud

U.S. Federal Trade Commission

U.S. Social Security Administration