Take This Class and Avoid Scams

Caregivers, community groups and others worried about the financial well-being of their older constituents should consider using a new instruction tool developed by the federal government to teach seniors and their caregivers how to avoid financial exploitation.

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The program, Money Smart for Older Adults, was released jointly Wednesday by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., or FDIC, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB. The materials are designed for use in a classroom setting. There are seven segments and each can be taught individually. The entire program requires a minimum of 150 minutes of class time.

Subjects included are:

Common types of elder financial exploitation.    Scams aimed at veterans.    Avoiding identity theft.    Avoiding medical identity theft.    Schemes that target homeowners, including reverse mortgage holders and applicants.    How to plan for unexpected life events and crises.

In announcing the program, CFPB Director Richard Cordray said he believed that it is "especially helpful for people like me who are taking care of the older generation. My dad is now 95."

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You don't have to be a financial expert yourself to teach this course. FDIC Chairman Martin Gruenberg emphasized that the program is "fully scripted and includes a take-home resource that will help older people avoid scams and develop solid plans for their financial futures."

Besides the script and the individual take-home materials, there also are interactive class exercises and overhead slides in PowerPoint and PDF formats. Copies of everything can be downloaded from FDIC.gov, then click on Money Smart Home.

It looks like a great tool for community groups in search of a retirement planning program. It also could be a valuable resource for retirement facilities concerned about the well-being of their residents. And the price is right -- completely free.