Is Someone You Love Suffering from Elder Abuse?

by Pam Reiss

According to the latest available statistics from the Administration on Aging, the number of senior citizens in America represented about 14.5 percent of the population. But that number is on the rise. The AoA expects that by 2040, seniors will make up nearly 22 percent—and by 2060 that number skyrockets to nearly 30 percent.

Unfortunately, the growing number of seniors in the community means that individuals looking for a mark for financial exploitation will have an easier time than ever. Seniors are targets for a number of reasons:

  • They’re likely sitting on more money in retirement than many younger people.
  • Some seniors have few friends or family members around and will suspend suspicion in favor of having company.
  • Some leave the responsibility of managing their finances to younger family members that feel entitled to money they expect to inherit.
  • Seniors in assisted living communities are surrounded by workers that may not have their best interests at heart.
  • Health issues associated with aging, such as dementia, make abuse easier to get away with.
  • Elders’ unfamiliarity with new technologies makes gaining access to personal financial data simpler.

All of these factors have converged on a growing elderly population to form a proverbial perfect storm for elder abuse. Just how rampant is the threat? According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, about 10 percent of seniors have fallen victim to financial exploitation.

Unfortunately, that means there is a great likelihood that someone you love may have been affected. Considering that these members of society are already on a fixed income in most cases, these abuses are considerably more heinous. The impact can range from inability to afford medications and housing to losses for family members that may have been expecting financial assistance themselves.

So what can you do to make sure this doesn’t happen to one of your loved ones? Take advantage of legal tools to limit the number of individuals that have access to, or control over, the finances of your aging family or friends. Use advance directives, living wills and limited powers of attorney for health care and financial decisions.

Awareness and education are also critical. Be sure that your aging loved ones are aware of the perils that exist in the world today. Be sure they understand that they should never provide sensitive personal information over the phone or online. If there is ever any question, be sure to speak directly to a representative from the institution in question, be it a bank, credit card company, or even something as seemingly benign as a telemarketing cold-call.

To learn more about how you can help to protect your loved ones against elder abuse, stop by The Milford Bank. Our financial experts will treat you as if you were one of our own family members.


Lifestyles of the Broke and Famous

by Mark Attanasio

Many people look to celebrities as an embodiment of the American Dream. Whether it’s an athlete inking a $100 million contract, a musician reaping the rewards of a platinum album or an actor raking in gold from an appearance on the silver screen, the rest of us see these individuals as the lucky ones that hit it big.

While it might seem like they’ll never have to worry about money again, the truth is that many celebrities end up in the same dire financial straits as the rest of us. Financial success isn’t only about how much money you’re bringing in, but rather how well you manage your assets, control your spending and avoid risky and potentially costly life choices.

Here are several high-profile names and their stories to serve as a reminder of the fact that financial success has less to do with your paycheck than you might think.

Nicolas Cage: Between 1996 and 2011, Cage banked over $150 million from his prolific acting career. He proceeded to spend it all on a lavish lifestyle revolving around sports cars, exotic pets, a rare collection of dinosaur fossils and private islands in the Caribbean. By the time the IRS came calling for its share—$13 million—the money was gone.

Reality check: It doesn’t matter how much you earn if you don’t put any money away for a rainy day.

Fred and Jeff Wilpon: The Wilpon brothers, majority owners of the New York Mets baseball team, became protagonists in a financial cautionary tale in 2008 when news broke that their fortune was ensnared in the ponzi scheme orchestrated by investment advisor Bernie Madoff. The Madoff case was discovered to be the largest financial fraud case in U.S. history and cost the Wilpon family between $500-700 million. They nearly had to sell their beloved franchise, but were eventually able to deal with their reversal of fortune.

Reality check: Even if you have entrusted the management of your finances to a professional, stay involved and know how your funds are being handled. Nobody, not even an advisor, will be more concerned about your bottom line than you are.

Willie Nelson: This legendary country music singer is perhaps as famous for his run-ins with the law as he is for his boisterous stage presence. Despite his commercial success, Nelson ran into tough times over the course of his career thanks to unpaid tax bills and a series of drug-related offenses that have cost him mightily over the years.

Reality check: Crime doesn’t pay. If you party like a rock star, you may end up broke as your life savings end up in the pockets of lawyers.

At The Milford Bank, our goal is to help you make the smart decisions with your money. Stop by any of our offices to learn more about protecting your wealth.

Think Your Old Phone is Worthless? Think Again.

by Sindy Berkowitz

Imagine walking into a Porsche dealership and offering up an old cell phone as your payment. Not even just a down payment—the whole thing. You’d probably be laughed out the door. Finding someone willing to make such a lopsided deal might seem impossible, but believe it or not, one California teenager was actually able to accomplish the task.

Steven Ortiz, a 17-year-old from California, started out with an old cell phone given to him for free by a friend. After browsing the bartering page of Craigslist, he realized he could potentially turn trash into treasure.

Over the course of two years, Ortiz made 14 trades before ending up with a 2000 Porsche Boxster. He first traded for a better phone, then up to an iPod Touch. From there, he bartered his way to a dirt bike. After trading several dirt bikes, Ortiz found himself with a MacBook Pro. With a brand new laptop, the ingenious teenager was able to upgrade to a Toyota 4Runner and promptly swap the vehicle for a customized golf cart. After a series of trades involving dirt bikes, street bikes and beat up old cars, Ortiz found himself with a 1975 Ford Bronco. From there, Ortiz was able to trade for the Porsche.

Not a bad investment, considering that he started out with a free cell phone.

But besides being an interesting story, there’s a lesson here. How often have you simply given or thrown away something without giving it a second thought? With a little patience, careful research and a willingness to negotiate, you can take Ortiz’s example and turn some of the unused items in your home into something valuable.

There’s also another lesson here: Sites like Craigslist, Ebay and Amazon can be bountiful for individuals willing to get creative and apply a little elbow grease. In another highly publicized example from 2008, a man in Canada was able to work his way from being the owner of a single paperclip to becoming a homeowner in Saskatchewan, a province of Canada.

Even without relying on the bartering section of the site, such sites offer plenty of other ways to earn extra income. Buying used furniture and restoring it to increase its value is one such way. There are even websites with free items that simply require your time and energy to pick up. Anything sold would be pure profit!

The old adage that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure is alive and well in the digital economy. While it certainly wouldn’t be prudent to bet your retirement on bartering cell phones and paperclips, a world of opportunity exists to gain supplemental income from goods you may be ready to discard.

To hear about some of the more traditional means by which you can improve your financial outlook, stop by any office of The Milford Bank and talk to us about your goals.


Join Milford Bank in Honoring Veterans at Second Annual Milford Moves 5K

by Becky Tudor

At The Milford Bank, we feel that our success is intertwined with the success of our community, which is why we strive to provide, and participate in, events that promote healthy living. That’s why we started the Milford Moves 5K race; it’s also why, this year, we’re taking it to the next level.

Last year’s turnout was spectacular, with more than 250 local residents showing up to race.

This year, Jorge Santiago, Milford Bank’s senior vice president, is hoping for an even greater turnout. In additional to supporting fitness initiatives, Jorge would like to raise as much as $10,000 for local veterans’ groups.

All profits from entry fees and event sponsors will be shared between four Veterans Service Organizations based in Milford: American Legion Post 196, VFW Post 7788, Chapter 15 of the Disabled American Veterans and Chapter 251 of the Vietnam Veterans of America. The primary missions of these groups are dedicated to veterans administration and rehabilitation, as well as mentoring and sponsorship of local youth programs.

Anyone, regardless of fitness level, is welcome to participate. Participants will receive an event T-shirt, a finisher photo free download and a “virtual goodie bag.” There will also be awards for the overall male and female winners, as well as awards in each age category. All participants under the age of 18 will receive participatory recognition.

If you’re not a runner, show your support and sponsor someone. With the help of generous sponsors, including the Police Benevolent Association, Napoli Deli and Milford Produce Market, we can reach our fundraising goal. Business sponsorships start at $250 and include free advertising. Individual sponsors can also chip in by supporting an individual runner.

If you participated in the race last year, you’ll appreciate that the route has been revised. This year’s runners will begin at Gulf Beach, make their way to the town green and then head back to the starting point.

To sign up for this year’s Milford Moves 5K, register online at Milford Bank’s website. Or, participants also have the option to register on June 12, the day of the race, from 6:30-7:30 a.m. The race begins at 8:00 a.m. But if you’re planning on waiting until the day of the event, be sure to leave extra time to take do some stretches before the race starts!