Help Protect the Finances of an Aging Parent With the True Link Spending Monitor
When an older adult’s memory loss makes it difficult to manage spending money, family members and other caregivers turn to the True Link Visa® Prepaid Card. Loved ones can easily adjust settings on the dashboard to meet an individual’s specific needs – whether that’s to help prevent spending mistakes, scam attempts, and more – and the older adult can still make some purchases on their own. In this article, we’ll walk through a few examples of how customers can adjust their dashboard settings so the True Link Visa Card will work for their specific needs.
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Arthur and the Peet’s Coffee prepaid Visa card
Arthur is a retired college professor who lives at home with his wife of 50 years in Tacoma, Washington. He’s always been a bit absent-minded, but since being diagnosed with dementia, his memory has faded significantly. Two short years ago his wife Mary Beth had been annoyed with him for forgetting what to pack before a trip or for swapping the salt for sugar while baking, but now his memory has significantly declined, making day-to-day life difficult.
It’s important to Mary Beth that Arthur be able to go about his daily life without constant supervision. Though he now wears a bracelet with an emergency phone number on it, he continues to walk the dog each morning and make daily visits to the public library. Arthur loves to sit and read before going down the street to Peet’s Coffee, where he’s been a regular for more than a decade. His cappuccino – which he orders using the proper Italian pronunciation – costs $2.85 every day, but every Friday he leaves a $5 tip. And once a month, for a special treat, he goes to Barnes and Noble and buys the latest issue of Scientific American Magazine.
Until recently, Mary Beth and Arthur carried the same credit card. But after a handful of concerning events – like Arthur handing over his entire wallet to someone asking for a couple of dollars – she went looking for another solution. Now, she feels more comfortable giving him a True Link Visa Card and tucking an extra forty bucks in his wallet just in case. Mary Beth has set up the True Link Visa Card to only work at Peet’s Coffee and at Barnes and Noble.
MaryBeth set up Arthur's True Link Visa Card in two simple steps:
- On the Spending Monitor settings for Arthur's Visa card, she clicked the check box to block all transactions over $0.
- Then she visited the special merchant settings section to make an exception and allow purchases only at Peet's Coffee and Barnes and Noble.
Once these settings are saved, Arthur will be able to continue enjoying his daily cappuccino and beloved bookstore visits. And Mary Beth doesn’t have to worry about their credit card ending up in the wrong hands. If someone does get ahold of Arthur’s True Link Visa card, attempted transactions at any other merchant will be blocked.
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Ruth and the telemarketer's charitable solicitations
Ruth is a former nurse living in an older-adult community just outside Indianapolis. She mostly takes her meals at the cafeteria downstairs but sometimes goes out for ice cream or pizza with friends, and cooks for her family when they visit. Ruth is also a great bargain hunter and enjoys the occasional shopping trip.
Ruth was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s three years ago. Since then, Carol, Ruth’s daughter, has been helping her navigate the world with memory loss.
Ruth has always been a generous soul. For much of her 30s, she worked at a health clinic in the Congo where she saw the impacts of poverty every day. After returning to the United States, she began making $10 donations each month to a handful of charitable organizations. Overtime, the number of donations – and the frequency of the requests –skyrocketed. Sometimes a telemarketer would call and ask for money via phone, sometimes it was by mail, and sometimes she’d see it on TV. Other callers would encourage her to enter charitable sweepstakes, subscribe to magazines, or purchase other items with a charitable tie-in. The more she donated the more lists she would end up on. Within six months, Ruth was making multiple nonprofit donations and “charitable purchases” every day, not remembering that she had donated mere hours ago.
Carol didn’t want her mother to be giving away money she needed for herself, but it was important to her that Ruth still have some freedom to go about her ordinary life. Carol needed a way to replace Ruth’s checkbook and credit card with a form of payment that offered more protection. That’s when Carol decided to order a True Link Visa Card.
Carol adjusted these settings on the Visa Card to meet Ruth’s needs:
- Block phone and internet purchases
- Make specific exceptions as needed (e.g., food delivery, cell phone bills)
Once these settings were saved, attempts to use Ruth’s True Link Visa card when it is not present – like with telemarketer donations, TV infomercial deals, or purchases by mail – will be blocked. But, Ruth can continue to go on her pizza and ice cream outings or buy that blouse she’s been eyeing when it goes on sale.
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A Romance Scam Takes Advantage of Joel
Joel had been a bachelor for many decades, so his son Frank was excited when he mentioned a new girlfriend he met through a dating app. But the more Frank tried to learn about their relationship, the more worried he became – normal questions like “what do you guys like to do together” and “when do I get to meet her” were met with evasive answers.
Frank came to town to visit his dad, and it turned out that Joel and his girlfriend went to the same place on most of their dates – the ATM. Joel said he was helping her get through a rough patch –covering the cost of a car repair, paying for her son’s school fees – but when Frank asked to see his dad’s bank statements, they realized that the “small expenses to help out” had turned into thousands of dollars. Joel had been a provider from early in his career, making good money as a mechanic – he’d driven a nice car and could always take a date out to a fancy dinner. He was proud to be able to help his girlfriend, and hadn’t realized the expenses were getting out of hand. After their talk, things improved for a few months. But, before long, the girlfriend was back – Joel had completely forgotten about the conversation with Frank and how much money had already been spent. After doing some research online, Frank discovered True Link and – after another long talk – his dad agreed they should sign up. His dad’s problem was simple – giving out cash. Other than that, Joel was doing great! When it came to his own spending, he wasn’t buying things he didn’t need or spending too much. Since Joel didn’t need cash at the places he shopped, blocking access to cash seemed like a no brainer.
And while this was a good first step to addressing their concerns, Frank knew that romance scams didn’t typically end at one failed ATM attempt. So Frank also made sure that he would be alerted via text message when an attempt to withdraw cash was blocked. He wanted to be able to intervene if needed.
Frank set up Joel’s Visa Card in two simple steps:
- Click all three "block" buttons on "Access to cash"
- Step up text alerts for blocked transaction
If this situation is similar to yours, you might consider:
- Allowing cash back at the time of purchase with a $20 limit
- Block the “dating” category so you’ll be alerted if dad is signing up for dating apps again
The day the Visa card arrived in the mail, Joel and his girlfriend went to multiple ATMs all over town. Frank got a text alert when the first ATM transaction was blocked – sitting at his office desk, he thought to himself, “this is working.” But once he received the fifth alert from yet another ATM, his blood was boiling – he hated that this woman was trying to take advantage of his dad. Based on the locations of the ATM transactions, Frank had an idea of where they might head next. He called up one of his high school buddies and asked if he could swing by and meet them in-person. All it took was one conversation to show that Joel wasn’t a solitary target – he had a team to protect him.
Since then, the Visa card hasn’t declined a single transaction. Life is just like it used to be.
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Lorraine and the In-Home Caregiver Visa Card
When Lorraine retired in her 60s, she became as now bird – spending winters in Florida to escape the blizzards and cold temp s n her Pennsylvania hometown. When she turned 70, she decided to officially make the move to the sunshine state – she sold her house, bought a condo, and gave away all but one winter coat. Lorraine’s son David, who had moved to Pittsburgh after college, came down to visit with his wife and children whenever he could.
After a decade of living the dream in Florida- sunshine most days, tennis with her girlfriends, pina coladas at sunset -Lorraine’s health started to deteriorate and she was diagnosed with dementia. At first she just experienced small memory lapses, but then her mobility also started to decline. Lorraine needed help getting groceries and picking up her prescriptions, and she increasingly needed help getting around the house. David tried to stay down for longer stretches to help his mom, but his job and family kept him away more than he would like. So after exploring professional caregiver agencies nearby, he found one that could provide 24/7 care.
Before he caught the last flight out on Sunday, David quickly met with the in-home caregivers and gave them all the guidance he could on how best to care for his mom. He wanted them to be able to buy groceries and prescriptions for Lorraine, so he bought a pack of Visa gift cards from the local grocery store with $100 on each and figured that would get them through the first few months.
Initially, this worked okay – David felt like his mom was receiving good care, and the caregivers would get in touch for more prepaid cards once the funds had run out. But as these requests became more frequent, David became annoyed by the process of picking up cards and sending them in the mail, and he was getting nervous about how the funds were being spent. Was all that money really going to his mom’s groceries? Were the cards being used for something else? He generally expected the best in people, but it felt like they were going through the prepaid cards faster and faster.
He spoke to a Geriatric Care Manager who recommended he look into True Link as a safer, easier way for caregivers to make purchases for Lorraine. He ordered the True Link Visa Prepaid Card right away – in Lorraine’s name but with Paid Caregiver printed on the Visa card. It was delivered to his mom’s home, and the Paid Caregivers had a reloadable Visa card they could use for day-to-day errands and expenses.
David set up Lorraine’s Caregiver Visa Card in three simple steps:
- Only allow purchases at Lorraine’s local grocery store and pharmacy
- Automatically transfer funds every time the balance falls below $100 to make sure there is always money available
- Review reports regularly to check expenditures
If this situation is similar to yours, you might consider:
1. Give the in-home caregivers view-only access to see the True Link Visa card balance (rather than calling you to ask)
2. Set up a once-daily email digest of all transactions made to stay in the loop on mom’s day-to-day care – for example, to confirm a pharmacy pickup happened that day
Now, David is able to review how much is being spent from the True Link Visa card and at what stores. He can also make sure the caregivers have enough money on the Visa card to make their daily purchases. Despite living more than a thousand miles away, David feels more confident that his mom is being cared for day in and day out.
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Bobby and the Expensive Scams
Bobby has lived in Saginaw, Michigan for his entire life. He married his high school sweetheart shortly after graduation, and they raised their three kids just a mile from his childhood home. His dream was to be a high school science teacher, but he ended up working in insurance for 30 years to put food on the table and support his family. After a life of hard work, Bobby loves his quiet retired life – daily walks with his wife, weekly drinks with his old poker buddies, and regular visits from his kids and grandkids, some who live nearby and others who have ventured beyond Saginaw.
Bobby has two closely held beliefs: always seethe best in others, and don’t spend more than you need to – his kindness helped him raise kind children, while his frugality helped his family through some tight times. So when he got a letter offering a free hearing exam, he saw an opportunity to save some money. The “free exam” turned into a heavy-handed sales pitch for an expensive custom-fit hearing aid. Since being able to listen and engage in conversations is important to Bobby, he trusted the “doctor” anyway and handed over $6,000. He did receive the hearing aids a couple months later, but they worked no better than the more affordable ones he’d had before.
A few months later, Bobby got a late-night call asking for a wire transfer to send (fake) bail money to a grandson(supposedly) arrested in Mexico. His grandson’s voice sounded a bit different than he remembered, but it was the middle of the night and he sounded stressed. So, he logged into his bank and wired over $1,000 – an amount that seemed worth it to help his grandson avoid a night in jail. He told his wife the next morning who immediately picked up the phone to call the grandson – he was happily at home in California. The family realized that Bobby had been the victim of a “grandparent scam”. After both of these incidents occurred in the course of a few months, Bobby’s wife and daughter stepped in to look for a way to protect Bobby from additional scams. They found True Link, and ordered the True Link Visa Card right away.
Bobby’s family set up the Visa Card in three simple steps:
1. Block wire and money transfers
2. Block online and phone purchases
3. Block purchases over $500 to minimize exposure to additional scams
With these guardrails in place, everyone –including Bobby – feels more at ease.
* Names and details have been changed to protect customer privacy.