An accountant (and Juilliard-trained pianist), Mrs. Tischler retired at age 75 because of failing eyesight. Upon retirement, she established a budget that, while tight, allowed her to cover her expenses and remain independent. While her deteriorating eyesight forced her to give up driving, she delighted in her music collection and love of crossword puzzles.
Puzzling Credit Card Charges
After taking a trip with his mom to a family graduation a few years after her retirement, Howard and his brothers began to suspect that their mother’s memory and cognitive capabilities were slipping. While spending a few days with her to assess her condition and arrange additional home care services, Howard found a credit card bill for nearly $8,000—unthinkable for a financially savvy accountant on a carefully planned fixed-income budget.
Preying on the Vulnerable
Alarmed, Howard started digging into the credit card charges. What he found was appalling:
- A legally blind woman, without a current driver license or a car, had been sold an $80-a-month deluxe auto club membership that included regular oil changes.
- Retired, she was paying a monthly premium for a product that would make her minimum credit card payments if she were to be laid off.
- She had been sold two credit monitoring services, costing her more than $40 per month.
Like many seniors, Mrs. Tischler had been taken advantage of by telemarketers and sold inappropriate products. Howard was shocked that large, reputable companies sold these services to his mother. While he was able to cancel the subscriptions, none of the companies were willing to refund the more than one-year’s worth of charges for useless services. Reluctantly, Howard and his brothers paid the credit card balance in full to spare his mother further distress.
Understanding the Problem
Howard never forgot his mother’s exploitation and resolved to do whatever he could to prevent it from happening to others. He researched the topic by talking to many professionals serving seniors, including law enforcement, social workers, medical professionals, geriatric specialists, Adult Protective Services, attorneys and CPAs.
He learned that the problem was far broader than his mother’s experience. Elder financial abuse can take many forms, including petty theft, fraud, scams, misguided home repairs and inappropriate products such as reverse mortgages, annuities and debit cards. He also found out that family members, caregivers, friends, financial professionals and even bank employees were among the perpetrators of this hideous crime.
Finding a Solution
A successful high-tech entrepreneur, Howard’s experience in the financial services and credit management industries provided him with the unique insight and qualifications needed to develop a technology solution to the elder financial exploitation epidemic. The result is EverSafe: the first technology-based solution designed to stem the varied forms of financial abuse that plague the elderly.