financial elder abuseFinancial elder abuse has become a major issue in the world. According to a 2010 Investor Protection Trust Elder Fraud Survey, one in five U.S. citizens over the age of 65 have been victimized by financial exploitation. The annual amount of loss caused by these financial frauds is approximately $2.9 billion.

Criminals are much smarter and more technically advanced than ever before and elders — who might’ve lost some cognitive skills over the years — are struggling as a result.

There are a few steps that you can take to ensure your finances are protected. Here are three tips for avoiding financial elder abuse:

Never Give Away Information Over the Phone
Scammers will try anything to take advantage of seniors and get them to give up their financial information. These crooks will call elders claiming to be government officials, law enforcement, banks, sweepstakes officials, and anything else they can think of to try and trick you.

No matter what, you should never give out personal and financial information over the phone to someone you don’t know. Even if you believe it to be 100% true, check with someone else before you give any information or money.

Be Careful on the Internet
You have to be extremely careful on the Internet because that’s where you are most at a disadvantage. Many of these scammers are much younger and much more proficient at using the Internet. They can disguise themselves as potential friends, law enforcement, or anything that will cause you to slip up.

The Internet is even more dangerous than other methods of financial elder abuse because scammers often don’t even need to trick the seniors. If you access various websites or purchase items online, usually you’ll be prompted to share some sort of information. If you aren’t careful, experienced scammers can hack into these sites and access your personal and financial information.

Consult With Professionals
Identifying a financial issue quickly can end up saving thousands of dollars. By working with a professional financial advisor, you’ll be able to have your finances monitored closely and you’ll be alerted if any suspicious activity occurs.

Consulting with an estate planning attorney who knows the ins and outs of estate law is important as well. According to LexisNexis, about 55% of elders in the U.S. do not have a will or estate plan in place. Your finances will be secure for the future and your family’s future if you work with professional estate planning attorneys.