TDCI encourages families, caregivers to protect seniors from fraud, elder abuse

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has declared Wednesday, June 15, 2022, 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 to highlight the importance of learning the red flags that might indicate fraud or elder abuse along with the steps senior Tennesseans and their loved ones can take to prevent exploitation.

“Tennessee’s seniors are one of our most precious resources. Their lives and finances 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 to highlight the importance of protecting the dignity and financial independence of Tennessee’s elder population on Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Any Tennessee senior or caregiver who has questions when it comes to 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 is a person you authorize your financial firm to contact 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 Securities Elizabeth Bowling. “We strongly encourage all Tennessee investors to contact their financial firms and name a trusted contact today.”

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 the responsibility. You may establish more than one trusted contact.

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 lays out 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.

Identity Theft Prevention Tips

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 calls or visits 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 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.

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