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What would make you stay on the phone?

Elderly woman on telephone.

Have you ever picked up the phone and cringed when you hear unwanted marketing calls? Most people just hang up.

But what if someone called you to say a loved one was in trouble? Would you question them? If the caller wanted money, would you give it to them to save someone you loved?

The risk of being financially exploited or abused increases with age. One in 20 seniors in the United States say they have been financially abused in one way or another.

Financial abuse includes the improper use of funds, property, or assets. Fortunately, there are ways to build a “safety net” to protect yourself and others.

According to Consumer Reports, the best way to prevent such abuse to stay involved in your community. Isolation is a scammer’s best friend.

Other things you can do to prevent financial abuse is to opt out of commercial mail solicitations, have a trusted loved one help you pay the bills, and have an emergency plan in case you may not be able to control your own finances for a period of time.

To protect a loved one, there are also some simple protection measures. You can visit a loved one often; sometimes doing so without advance notice can help too.

Also if you are concerned with a relative’s financial resources, you can set up a limited account for them to assure yourself they have enough to take care of themselves.

Read more about tips to prevent the financial abuse of seniors in the November 2015 edition of Consumer Reports magazine, available at your library, along with other books and information about financial abuse and financial planning.

You can also find Consumer Reports Online for free through your library at