Are you listening?
I need a partner to help me and millions like me take care of our aging parents or mentally challenged loved ones, so that they avoid getting scammed by con artists and salespeople looking for suckers.
My parents are old and getting older, but they’re still fairly independent and want to stay that way as long as possible, but they’re also vulnerable to financial abuse and easily avoided mishaps because their eyesight and BS detectors are fading. Like 11 million other Americans over 60, my dad suffers from macular degeneration and requires a 50-inch monitor so he can read his email. And my mom has mental health issues and Parkinsonisms. But despite, or because of, their handicaps, they work together to pay the bills. My mom acts as the eyes and my dad the finance brains, as they try to independently manage their finances.
The problem is they can’t really see the individual line items on the credit card statements, and sometimes get confused about which bill they are supposed to pay. So occasionally, bills go unpaid, or extra charges go unnoticed. However, if dementia begins to set in, inevitably bills will be forgotten but so far that’s not an issue, yet.
But what is a major issue are the fraudsters and hucksters who target my parents with scams and worthless crap.
“Your son is in jail! You need to wire a thousand dollars to bail him out but don’t tell anyone as we don’t want people to know he was in jail.”
“Yes! We can take care of the termites in your house for a measly $1835. We’ll use non-toxic orange oil” but what we’re not going to tell you is we’re not licensed, orange oil isn’t an effective treatment and you could have had your whole house tented for less. ;-(
And every time, my dad says he won’t fall for “that scam again!” No, instead he or my mom will fall for another scam instead. They’re not alone as millions of seniors lose billions ($36 billion according to True Link Financial) each year to greedy relatives and scam artists.
So as a good son, I’ve researched what options exist that enable my parents to both be independent and protected. Unfortunately, there are none. Bank of America allows me to get alerts after payments are made and the money is gone, but not prior to approval.
What I really want is the ability, like in a commercial account, to set specific limits and rules that require checks or withdrawals over a certain size to unapproved recipients be approved by a 3rd party, either me or my siblings. We should be able to create a:
- Whitelist of standard payees, e.g. mortgage or insurance, that automatically get approved.
- Blacklist of payees that automatically require additional approvals. The blacklist can be of hand-selected businesses and people, or of a compiled list of known individuals and companies suspected of abusive practices
Ultimately, the entire family should be able to have visibility so no one can begin siphoning off money without the rest of us knowing. The goal is leave my parents in control of the day-to-day finances, but with controls that prevent them from losing their life savings, or to raise alerts when bills fail to get paid or other warnings signs arise.
I would gladly pay extra for this service, but no one offers it. Why banks?
Considering seniors over 65 have about 30% of the wealth in the country, and that almost everyone of us with older parents have stories of strangers and/or relatives taking advantage of their loved ones, why haven’t you risen to your fiduciary duty and tackled the issue?
Many of us would gladly pay extra and shift our money to you, as it would give us peace of mind and save us money. I’d gladly pay $600 a year as that would already have prevented at least $4,000 in monetary losses, not to mention lost sleep from worrying. But you offer nothing. Nothing but excuses when you should be offering solutions to solve the problem, and make money in the process!
So become a financial Fido, friendly to your families, ferocious to the con men coming after your customers’ money. Do it, and I’ll toss you more than a bone, I’ll give you my family’s entire life savings to take care of.