A recently released guide from CFP Board©, written by consumer advocate Eleanor Blayney provides helpful guidance.  You can access it here:

http://cfp.net/docs/publications/financial_self_defense_guide_for_seniors.pdf?sfvrsn=2    The full title is self-explanatory:

Financial Self-Defense for Seniors – Know the Red Flags and Avoid Financial Abuse

The layout of the booklet helps information to be conveyed very clearly and easily.  There are 10 red flags (or common areas of vulnerability for seniors).  Brief scenarios are provided for each one, followed by an explanation of the problem.  Each red flag is accompanied by a self-help section called ‘Your Self -Defense Moves’.   This section offers practical steps to protect oneself from potential financial abuse.

My only complaint with the layout of the booklet is that there is no single view of all the 10 red flags.  I would have liked a chapter guide providing an at-a-glance look at the issues.  It would make the guide more helpful as an ongoing reference book.

The advice offered is excellent and much of it is useful in Canada as well.  There were two statements that I felt were stereotyping seniors:

1.  Page 1:  We get stubborn.  This was referencing the concern about losing autonomy and drawing similarities between loss of driving and loss of financial control.   The phrase would have been better left out.

2.  Page 9:  In your sunset years.   This was referencing the importance of legacy and having a plan in place to provide for loved ones.  I think this is important at all times of our lives.  This phrase also would have been better left out.

My top three areas from the book that seniors need to be aware of are:

1.  Taking recommendations from the podium – it is pointed out that the speaker doesn’t know your unique situation and recommendations may not be suitable for you (p 7)

2.  Affinity Fraud – happens because we feel comfortable with those similar to us and trust is more easily abused (p 13)

3.  Minding the gap – do not leave blank spaces on forms, even if someone offers to fill them in for you (p 15)

It’s well worth the time to read through this booklet.