|1||Released a functional VISA credit card with fraud protection|
|2||$100b is taken from the elderly every year in scams|
|3||Our Team: Machine Learning Experts, Visa, MasterCard, Google|
Keeping track of finances is one of the trickiest parts of caring for elderly parents and grandparents. Seniors are particularly vulnerable to credit card fraud and scams, but monitoring accounts is time-consuming for caregivers. And the subject is emotionally loaded, too—conversations about spending can be difficult for older adults who want to preserve their autonomy. The dilemma will affect more families in coming years—longer life spans and aging baby boomers combined will double the population of Americans aged 65 years and older during the next 25 years to about 72 million, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
True Link Financial co-founder Kai Stinchcombe experienced the challenges in his own family. “Years ago, we discovered my grandmother was spending a third of her income donating to charities, many of which were fake,” Stinchcombe says. “Since then, we uncovered something new almost every week—a hearing aid scam, an unwanted magazine subscription, ‘free’ trials ordered from TV, money wired to someone posing as a relative.”
Stinchcombe and his co-founder and Chief Product Officer Claire McDonnell—who also watched two of her grandparents get scammed—have developed a debit card to head off those rip-offs. The result is a card that protects its users and keeps caregivers in the loop.
Protection with a personal dimension
Investment scams, fake charities, sweepstakes set-ups, phishing schemes, confidence games, useless medical gadgets and scammers posing as relatives can all drain the financial resources of the elderly. And identity theft experts say that senior citizens, especially those in retirement communities, nursing homes and senior-living centers are the most susceptible to credit card theft and fraudulent use of Social Security numbers. Credit card fraud alone has increased 87 percent since 2010, resulting in a loss of $6 billion annually, according to Javelin Strategy and Research. What’s more, many seniors don't regularly check credit-card statements, review credit reports, or monitor their bank statements closely enough to catch problems.
While scamming is widespread today, it doesn’t need to be tolerated, Stinchcombe says. “Why are we getting ripped off all the time? Since when did that become okay?” he says. “I think there will be a consumer movement.”
It’s a movement True Link hopes to lead by changing what’s in seniors’ wallets.
How it works
The True Link Prepaid Visa Card offers a customizable, personalized check against fraud to ensure that purchases and donations are intended—and recipients are legitimate. It’s a Visa card with built-in scam detector designed to provide security and peace of mind.
Each swipe of the card activates the Visa network, which routes the transaction to True Link, where the platform examines the transaction to see if it matches blocked or restricted categories, individually blocked merchants, or if it exceeds a certain spending limit. If it does, the user—usually a caregiver or family member—is alerted by text message or email and can accept or reject the transaction. True Link also keeps track of known scammers and suspicious merchants to head off any problems before any money is spent. The card has a $20 annual fee after the first free year.
Solving a problem that matters
“What gets me excited is solving a problem that really matters to people,” McDonnell says. “When people have this problem, they cry about it. I was talking to someone last week whose dad lost 75% of his retirement savings and will live for the rest of his life on a fraction of what he worked for forty years to save. This is a big, emotional problem for people.”
Senior scamming is something many of us know about, and yet “it’s everybody’s secret,” Stinchcombe says of the shame involved in getting tricked out of your money. “Elders don’t go to law enforcement. They don’t go to their families. … They feel stupid.” Concerned family members balance the need to preserve seniors’ dignity with the priority of financial security, often conducting painstaking review of bank statements and purchasing history.
Repeat entrepreneurs, McDonnell and Stinchcombe were friends for years before working together. Their experience is varied—McDonnell previously worked on a mobile nutrition company while Stinchcombe co-founded Aktana, a sales force effectiveness platform. After discovering the costly and tragic issue of senior scamming, Stinchcombe joined Lendup for a year to gain experience at a financial services company.
Ultimately Stinchcombe says he founded True Link Financial to safeguard his grandmother’s wallet and preserve his own peace of mind. “I do feel fortunate to have a job where I’m helping elderly people rather than ripping them off,” Stinchcombe says. “There’s somebody whose job is sitting in a call center eight hours a day getting calls from people upset about hidden charges on some product and telling them, ‘We can’t refund that.’”
True Link aims to help families while tapping into a growing market of the elderly—the founders hope to partner with elder care organizations down the line. “There’s a way to solve the problem through a solid business, and that’s a really special thing,” McDonnell says. “We’re taking an existing business model that works and improving the service dramatically through technology.”
True Link Financial is conducting a Regulation D offering via Wefunder Advisors LLC. CRD Number: #167803.
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