EverSafe Newsletter

SENIOR FINANCIAL PROTECTION NEWS

Providing thought-provoking articles, commentary and general information on issues related to aging and financial health.

The Secret to Longevity?

IT MAY BE HUMAN CONNECTION

Okinawa Research Centre for Longevity ScienceOkinawa Research Centre for Longevity Science in Japan has conducted research on aging that is focused on their island’s own residents, where it’s not unusual for people to live to 100 years of age or older. The Japanese call Okinawa the ‘island of the immortals’, as its residents are more likely to live to become centenarians than people in other regions of Japan. Named one of the world’s “blue zones”, it has been home to “more than 1,000 centenarians throughout the past 40 years.” Staying active through exercise and socializing were cited in interviews as important factors in living longer. One of the others is called ‘moai’, “a local tradition of group support and companionship between residents that can last for decades.” Dr. Makoto Suzuki, from the Centre, also cited both dedication to a particular hobby and caring for a loved one as important aspects when assessing longevity.

GOVERNMENT / LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

NJ APPROVES SAFEGUARDING AGAINST FINANCIAL EXPLOITATION ACT

New Jersey is the most recent state to pass legislation that will help protect older adults from financial exploitation. Governor Murphy signed the Safeguarding Against Financial Exploitation Act (“SAFE Act”) in January. Under the new law, a “qualified individual who reasonably believes that financial exploitation of an eligible adult has occurred would be required to notify Seal of the State of New Jerseythe Bureau of Securities as well as any applicable county adult protective services provider.” These reporters would include an agent, investment adviser, representative or other person who serves in a supervisory, compliance, or legal capacity for a broker-dealer or investment adviser, who believes that financial exploitation of an “eligible adult” (a person age 65 or older or a person subject to the “Adult Protective Services Act”) has occurred or is being attempted. They will now be mandated to notify the Bureau of Securities in the Division of Consumer Affairs in the Department of Law and Public Safety and the applicable county Adult Protective Services provider. The qualified individual will also be obligated to notify any third party previously designated by the eligible adult—unless the third party is the party suspected of the financial exploitation. The law also allows a broker-dealer or investment advisor to delay disbursement from an eligible adult’s account if it may result in financial exploitation. In so doing, the broker-dealer or investment advisor would be immune from any administrative or civil liability. Since 2018, more than two dozen states have enacted legislation to protect senior citizens from fraud, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Aging & Financial Health in 2020

…BY THE NUMBERS

An interesting piece by Paul Brandus outlines a number of changes that will affect the finances of older adults and retirees in the coming new year. One will affect 401(k)s and IRAs. For instance, the contribution limit for a designated Roth 401(k) for 2020 is $19,500—up from $19,000 in 2019. Individuals who are 50 plus can make Woman working on a painting.catch-up contributions to their 401(k) accounts and/or individual retirement accounts up to $6,500, for a potential total annual contribution of $25,500. The average Social Security payment will be up slightly in 2020, and the average ‘retirement’ age will increase by two months. The most disturbing figure in the Brandus article concerns planning for medical expenses in later life. According to the piece, Fidelity Investments examines this data annually and estimates out-of-pocket medical expenses for the average couple retiring at age 65 in 2019 at $285,000. For single retirees, the health care cost is estimated at $150,000 for women and $135,000 for men. You can be sure these figures will rise another few percentage points in 2020. According to Fidelity, a 65-year old couple retiring in 2019 can expect to spend $285,000 in health care and medical expenses throughout retirement, compared with $280,000 in 2018. For single retirees, the health care the health care cost estimate is $150,000 for women and $135,000 for men. Given recent research from the Federal Reserve concluding that nearly half of Americans don’t have $400 in cash for an emergency, as well as research from AARP suggesting that when seniors are exploited, they lose an average of $120,000 to fraudsters, older Americans should certainly be concerned about protecting their financial health.

SCAM ALERT

ANOTHER DATA BREACH—LANDRY’S RESTAURANT CHAIN

Landry’s, the company that owns and operates more than 600 properties, including establishments like Morton’s, Chart House, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Joe’s Crab Shack and Saltgrass Steak House, warned customers that a data breach may have compromised credit card information. The company indicated that the data breach likely affected cards swiped between March 13 and Oct. 17, 2019. The breach may have happened when waiters and other restaurant personnel swiped customers’ credit cards in machines intended to submit food and drink orders to the kitchen and bar, as opposed to separate machines used on “point-of-sale terminals.” Consumers should be mindful that their data is more at risk with every passing breach and take steps to protect their savings by monitoring all of their financial accounts—and not just their credit report.

REMEMBER THE GRANDPARENT SCAM? SCAMMERS ARE NOW MEETING VICTIMS IN PERSON

Senior woman looking at cell phone.A new variation of the Grandparent Scam is that exploiters are now making attempts to induce older victims to turn over funds—in person. This scam is widespread and well-known: a vulnerable adult, often a senior, gets a phone call from someone impersonating a grandchild, who is in distress because he or she has been arrested. Pleas are made from the “grandchild” or a “detective” to send funds (via wire, ACH, gift card numbers) as soon as possible. In a recent case in New York, the exploiter sent an agent to pick up the cash—in person. In another case, the scammer sent a note with instructions on how to send the cash with the victim’s newspaper. One thing is clear: when thieves or their agents learn the address of their targets, and meet with them in person, the risk of harm to the senior escalates, according to police. The importance of reminding family members about the Grandparent Scam and reminding loved ones never to give personal information to unknown callers can’t be overstated.