Quarterly Financial Safety Tips: Summer Edition
Updated: Jul 1, 2021
Here we are midway through the year. With scams on the rise and prices increasing on everything from cars to groceries, it is more important than ever to keep your money safe. Here are 3 tips to protect your money.
Tip #1: Recurring Charges are Dangerous for Consumers
Many businesses have switched to recurring monthly charges rather than a one-time fee. It makes perfect sense for businesses because they get more predictable revenue. Businesses don’t need to put as much effort into sales every month because they charge existing consumers automatically. Unfortunately, consumers end up paying for services month after month that they no longer want. Have you ever been charged a monthly fee for something that you don’t use every month?
Not only do legitimate businesses use recurring monthly fees to charge consumers for unwanted services, but many shady organizations specifically target certain groups of people to dupe these consumers into paying way more than expected. One example is a $100 monthly gym membership fee that was charged to an older couple who thought they were entering a drawing for a free trip. In a recent news story, political campaigns were shown to utilize deceptive practices to overcharge consumers. (See https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/26/us/politics/recurring-donations-seniors.html). Make sure that you review any financial transactions closely to identify recurring monthly charges for services that you no longer use. If you need help with stopping unwanted recurring charges, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tip #2: Financial Stability Improves Health
Did you know that your finances can impact your health? The Health & Human Services Department identifies five (5) social determinants of health, which are outside factors that indirectly impact health. These five factors are:
Level of education;
Access to health care;
Neighborhood where you live; and,
Social and community relationships.
Money can’t buy you happiness, but having a steady source of income that exceeds your expenses may positively impact your health. What can you do to achieve a better balance between your income and spending? Making changes that will improve your financial stability is one way to positively impact your future.
Image: Healthy People 2030, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Retrieved June 30, 2021, from https://health.gov/healthypeople/objectives-and-data/social-determinants-health
Tip #3 Having a Trusted Contact Provides Peace of Mind
Most financial institutions now ask their customers aged 65+ to provide the name of a “trusted contact”. A trusted contact is someone that the bank can contact should the bank suspect suspicious activity with your financial accounts. For example, if a bank customer arrives at the bank with a new caregiver who insists on making a large withdrawal, then the bank could contact the customer’s trusted contact if the bank suspects foul play. Historically, banks have been limited in their ability to safeguard a client’s account by contacting another person due to privacy concerns, but the new trusted contact rules let the customer decide who should be contacted in case of suspicious activity.
Your financial institutions should have a form that allows you to select a trusted contact. Make sure that you select the right person to be your trusted contact. For some people, selecting a trusted family member is an easy choice. For others, it can be a challenge to find the right person to act as a trusted contact. Some considerations for selecting your trusted contact include:
How long have you known the person? Try to find someone who you have known for at least 10 years. A long track record of trust should make you more confident in your selection.
Will the person be available when needed? Try to find someone who your financial institutions will be able to reach. Your trusted contact should be someone who will be ready and able to help if called upon to do so.
Will the person act in your best interest? If your financial welfare is on the line, you want a trusted contact who will make decisions in your best interest. It is your money, and your trusted contact should know that they are acting on your behalf.
Although this tip about trusted contacts focuses on the rules governing financial accounts for persons over the age of 65, there are many benefits to having someone you can trust should you need assistance in the future. A Financial Power of Attorney can be an excellent legal relationship to have in many circumstances, but again you must choose the person you trust wisely.
Keeping your money safe is getting harder all the time. But you can do it! These tips describe a few easy steps that anyone can apply to their own personal financial situation. For more information regarding improving your financial safety, please visit us at GuideChange.com.