Financial Literacy, Seniors Residents, and BINGO?

Did you know that only 57% of U.S. adults are financially literate (according to a recent survey conducted by Standards & Poor’s)? It is easy to become overwhelmed when talking about finances in general. From banking to saving to managing debt and building credit, conversations around money cover a lot of topics.

Financial Literacy is an important part of Mercy Housing’s onsite Resident Service programs. Mercy Housing provides services and resources around financial stability to help residents develop the skills and tools necessary to build a stable financial future.

Huntington Bank, one of Mercy Housing Mountain Plains’ community partners, recently visited senior residents at Francis Heights Apartments and Villa Maria in Denver to play interactive games of Financial Bingo where they learned about signs of financial scams and frauds and discussed a topic that is becoming more problematic for seniors: identity theft.

The Huntington Bank Team visited Villa Maria Apartments.

“Seniors are on a fixed income and this workshop was designed to really help them to understand identity theft,” explained Nicole Marquez, Vice President Community Development Relationship Manager II, Huntington Bank. “They are vulnerable to so many different predators and scams – phone scams, internet scams, etc.”

What makes seniors sometimes more vulnerable to various financial scams? “They get lonely,” Marquez said. “And when someone calls, it’s a way for them to just talk to somebody.”

Building awareness

Identity theft doesn’t only happen online. “When you think about life insurance, your will, your caretakers,” Marquez explained, “there are so many components that play into being aware of how a scam can act and how things can lead to a scam.”

What a senior carries around with them is critical. Oftentimes, they are used to carrying their Social Security card in their wallet or purses. What happens if they lose their purse, or their wallet gets stolen?

“BINGO!” – Mercy Housing Mountain Plains Maria Villa resident and BINGO winner!

“Well, I won’t be carrying my social security card around with me now,” Villa Maria resident Diana shared.

“Be aware of your surroundings,” Nicole added.

Many seniors aren’t inclined to use online banking because they think that it is an overall scam. But Nicole and her team are trying to change that narrative. “Online banking is safe,” Nicole said. “The key is the protect their username and login.”

Financial Scams Warning Signs

Nicole shares tips on avoiding financial scams with senior residents.

When asked how many people in the room either knew someone who had fallen victim to a financial scam or were themselves a victim, several hands were raised. They were eager to participate in the conversation.

After being scammed, one Francis Heights resident now says, “I am not a bank,” whenever she receives a phone call from an unknown number.

Marquez and her Huntington Bank team shared these questions with residents:

  • Are you in a new relationship with someone? A caretaker?
  • Are you getting asked for small amounts of money?
  • Are people reaching out to you with sad stories?

These may be signs of a scammer. The team also suggested that residents be aware of “shoulder surfers,” which describes someone who is looking over your shoulder as you enter a PIN number.

Let’s Play Financial BINGO!

“We love BINGO,” shared one enthusiastic resident. Following the conversations around financial scams, red flags, and financial “dos and don’ts,” participants enjoyed playing Financial BINGO where the printed BINGO card had many of the lessons learned earlier on each square.

It’s time to play Financial BINGO!

“Today I learned that you shouldn’t be ashamed to report if you are being scammed,” resident Josie shared.

Because many seniors are on a fixed income, the workshops are designed to help residents understand just how vulnerable they are to so many different predators and scams.

“At each stage in life, there’s something you can learn or relearn because you might not be applying some of those concepts to your life – you have to hear it again, right?” Nicole added.

Thank you, Huntington Bank for your partnership!