You may not live in the same state as your elderly parents, but you want to do what you can to take care of them. Could your loved ones become targets of financial abuse?

Consumer Reports offers insights to help prevent senior citizen financial exploitation. Help your parents safeguard their finances and your peace of mind

Look into estate planning

One aspect of estate planning is quickly taking over your parents’ finances should they become incapacitated or otherwise unable to do so on their own. If someone gains control of their money who should not have access, being your parent’s durable power of attorney means you can quickly step in and do what you can to regain control without a lengthy legal process.

Start a conversation 

While you may feel uncomfortable doing so, talk with your parents about any concerns you have regarding them being victims of financial abuse. Criminals prey on isolated, ill-informed senior citizens to cheat them out of their money. A single open conversation can keep your parents from becoming victims. Let them know that a new friend or even a caretaker could try to take advantage of them if they are not careful.

Close unnecessary accounts 

Savvy criminals may target rarely used bank accounts for their misdeeds, and your parents may have several such accounts. Go over all your parents’ open accounts with them, looking for ones they do not use often and may want to close. Be sure you both determine whether penalties apply for closing an account.

Being proactive is key for protecting finances. Help your parents enjoy the hard work they put into saving for their retirement.