Did you know that you can take several steps to help yourself steer clear of being a potential victim of financial fraud?
One key tool that allows for an extra layer of protection is the designation of at least one “trusted contact” to your investment accounts. By adding the information for a trusted person or two to your brokerage accounts, you can help ensure that your financial advisor has the tools to help you if it becomes necessary. Providing your advisor with a trusted contact ensures that the advisor can get in touch with another family member or trusted friend if you can’t be reached or if D.A. Davidson has any reason to suspect fraud or financial elder abuse. Importantly, while this disclosure allows your advisor to discuss your account with someone you trust, it does not authorize that person to act on your behalf.
Naming a trusted contact is purely optional; however, D.A. Davidson suggests that you consider it. Without it, your advisor may be unable to act in the event of a sudden change in the markets or an account-threatening situation. Although losing the ability to manage your finances is not something most of us want to consider, we also should plan for the possibility of incapacity, whether we are caring for ourselves, our aging parents or someone else. By planning ahead, you are more likely to remain in control of your finances and minimize problems for you and your family, even if you never start facing serious mental or physical limitations.
As an additional precaution, D.A. Davidson recommends letting other friends or family members know which persons’ names are listed as trusted contacts.
Other steps that can be taken to help plan for the future:
- Consider involving another trusted person. You may want to give a professional, close relative or friend an overview of your financial situation. This way, another person understands your situation and/or has met your advisors. Be certain this is someone you can trust.
- Consider a durable power of attorney. This allows a designated friend or family member to act in your place for financial and medical decisions if you ever become unable to make your own decisions.
- Organize your documents. Update, organize and store important documents in a safe, easily accessible location. Give copies to trusted loved ones or tell them where to find important information. This includes bank and brokerage statements, account information, mortgage and credit information, insurance policies, pension and other retirement benefit summaries, Social Security payment information, and contact information for the professionals who are your advisors. A list of online passwords for these accounts should be kept in a separate location.
- Update your information. If something changes in your personal or financial situation, it is important to revise your documents. Your trusted contacts may also change. Be sure to keep your financial professionals informed.
- Be aware of the potential impact of external factors. Stress, mental disorders and some medications can affect memory and brain power. Be sure you get enough sleep.
- Speak out. If you believe someone is taking advantage of you or you are a victim of fraud, don’t be afraid to tell someone. Multiple resources have been created for reporting suspicions, or you can tell a trusted friend or relative.
By spending time now and planning ahead, you can help prevent unexpected complications later. Additional information and resources can be found through these sources:
- Fraud Hotline – If you or someone you know suspect they are a victim of fraud, you can call the Fraud Hotline of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging: 1-855-303-9470
- The National Center for Victims of Crime
- The SEC Page for Seniors
- The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority – Call for assistance or to raise concerns about issues with brokerage accounts and investments: 1-844-574-3577
Information contained herein has been obtained by sources we consider reliable, but is not guaranteed, and we are not soliciting any action based upon it. Any opinions expressed are those of the author and based on interpretation of data available at the time of original publication of this article. These opinions are subject to change at any time without notice. Investors should consult their financial and/or tax advisor before implementing any investment plan.