HEALTH & WELLNESS

Q&A: How to help loved ones protect their life savings

Sarah D. McDaniel

A Conversation with Liz Loewy,
Co-Founder & COO, EverSafe
(former Chief, Elder Abuse Unit, Manhattan DA's Office)

How did you and your co-founder come up with the idea of EverSafe?

The idea for EverSafe came about in a conversation I had with Howard Tischler. I was a prosecutor in the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, where I oversaw an Elder Abuse Unit of 18 prosecutors. I had just finished trying a case involving a well-known philanthropist named Brooke Astor, who was exploited by her only son and his attorney. After the trial, we received a number of calls from victims across the country. Howard, a successful tech entrepreneur, was one of them. His mother was defrauded by a telemarketer who convinced her to buy an auto club service when she was 80 years old, didn't own a car, and was legally blind. We couldn't prosecute the case as she was from out of state, but we did talk about why elder fraud was so rampant—even when other crime was down in Manhattan. At the time, there was no service focused on monitoring financial accounts and credit across institutions— that also sent alerts to loved ones. And so the idea for EverSafe was born. Prosecuting the fraudsters was certainly gratifying, but I chose to leave the DA's Office to help seniors and families get in front of the problem.

Why is this type of service particularly important to women?

EverSafe is focused on helping families manage and protect their life savings. More than half of caregivers in the US are women.1 Many of them provide assistance with financial management tasks. When older parents are scammed, their caregivers suffer as well. As a prosecutor, I met with many adult daughters of defrauded seniors. They expressed fear about how their victimized parents would make ends meet and regret that they hadn't done more to prevent the theft. We are the first and only service providing personalized monitoring that analyzes activity not just in the credit report, but across all financial accounts and real estate as well. We can alert those daughters to issues like irregular activity, unpaid bills, or changes in food spending by email, text, or voice — even if they live across the country.

"One of the things my team at Morgan Stanley does is educate our clients about how to enhance their cybersecurity amid a rapidly changing threat landscape. I worry in particular about our elderly clients, or the parents of our clients, who are often targeted by fraudsters. That's why our partnership with Eversafe is so important. Eversafe is a trusted resource we can point our clients to as they begin to think more and more about protecting their families and themselves."

- Rachel Wilson
Head of Wealth Management Cybersecurity

What other steps can people take to protect themselves and their loved ones?

People are in denial about financial health. They insure their homes, their cars, their jewelry – and yet most don't take steps to protect their life-savings. In the last few years, breaches have exposed most of Americans' personal information, which may include their birth date, Social Security number, driver's license, address, and/or credit or debit card information. Cyber-scammers, unscrupulous telemarketers, and identity thieves abound, but there are ways to stop them in their tracks. Women—and men—need to take steps to protect their assets, in advance of a problem. A family conversation is a good way to start. And this pre-planning conversation doesn't need to focus on issues related to aging or dementia—problems may arise when folks are traveling or hospitalized. A few points to cover:

Many individuals have no idea where their parents or adult children bank, or whether they have an advisor, attorney, or doctor whom they see regularly. A master emergency contact list should be considered that includes names and locations of financial accounts, professionals who are or have been retained, whether there is a power of attorney, a designated "trusted contact," and/or a health care proxy in place, and the location of important legal documents.

Talking with family on a regular basis about current scams and how to recognize them is also a best practice. There are fraud schemes that are seasonal (such as in tax-filing season) and others that are variations on a theme, like the grandparent scam. AARP has a Fraud Watch Network which can serve as a helpful tool for keeping loved ones updated on the latest scams.

Caregivers should consider establishing a system to help seniors and loved ones stay on top of their finances. Technology tools like EverSafe simplify this process and provide more comprehensive protection.

What is your vision for the next five years?

We will certainly continue to grow our brand, both in financial services and across the marketplace. I hope that in five years, elder fraud prevention will be a strategic priority at every bank and firm. We are constantly enhancing our platform so that family members can help each other manage and protect their assets using fintech—across the miles. We will continue to pursue our mission: to improve the ability of seniors and families to age in place with their life savings and dignity intact.

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1. Upwards of 75% of all caregivers are female, and may spend as much as 50% more time providing care than males. https://www.caregiver.org/caregiver-statistics-demographics

Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC is not implying an affiliation, sponsorship, endorsement with/of the third party or that any monitoring is being done by Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC ("Morgan Stanley") of any information contained within the website. Morgan Stanley is not responsible for the information contained on the third party website or the use of or inability to use such site. Nor do we guarantee their accuracy or completeness.

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