FDIC helps veterans avoid scams

More than 11 million military veterans are in their 60s or older and, therefore, are targets for financial exploitation by unscrupulous relatives, acquaintances, vendors and others who prey on the elderly. The federal government, aware of the growing number of scams perpetrated against older veterans and other elderly citizens, is offering aid in fighting this alarming trend through education.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) are now offering a free, online and downloadable financial resource tool that promises to help older veterans protect themselves against fiscal wrongdoing and aid those who care for them. It is called "Money Smart for Older Adults;" it’s part of FDIC’s "Money Smart" online financial educational curriculum.

"Money Smart for Older Adults" is described as a stand-alone training module that "provides information to raise awareness among older adults (age 62 and older) and their caregivers on how to prevent, identify and respond to elder financial exploitation, plan for a secure financial future, and make informed financial decisions." One segment of the training module deals exclusively with scams targeting veterans. It contains elements designed to aid financial institutions, law enforcement agencies and other stakeholders in educating older consumers about financial exploitation and fraud.

"Money Smart for Older Adults" identifies typical examples of financial exploitation, such as:

  • Theft of money or property often by a caregiver or in-home helper;
  • Investment fraud and scams;
  • Lottery and sweepstakes scams;
  • Scams by telemarketers, mail offers and door-to-door salespersons;
  • Internet scams;
  • Identity theft;
  • Reverse mortgage fraud; and
  • Contractor and home improvement fraud.

According to the FDIC, persons with a Power of Attorney or who have a money managing (fiduciary) relationship with the older person are often the perpetrators of the fiscal exploitation. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) established a Fiduciary Program to help protect vulnerable veterans, such as those whose injuries, illnesses, diseases or advanced age prevent them from managing money derived from veterans’ benefit payments.

VA appoints a fiduciary only after the veteran in question has been deemed unable to manage his or her financial affairs through documented medical evidence or "court of competent judgment" ruling. Even though the fiduciary is usually chosen by the veteran, the would-be appointee must undergo an investigation of their suitability to serve. This includes criminal background and credit checks, a personal interview and collection of character references. Generally, family members or friends serve as fiduciaries. However, when friends and family are unable to serve, VA seeks qualified individuals or organizations to act as a fiduciary.

The "Money Smart for Older Adults" instructor guide, participant resource guide and Power Point slides – all useful to veterans and VA appointed fiduciaries – are available online in a downloadable format. Click here to download.

The participant and resource guide is also available for download here.

Printed copies of the "Money Smart for Older Adults" are available in bulk for support agencies as well.