FinTech Founder Q&A: EverSafe

Financial Solutions Lab

Financial fraud is a massive issue when it comes to money management for senior citizens. More than one in four victims of financial fraud in the U.S. are over the age of 60, according to FTC data. But for the longest time, not much has been done to help prevent this theft from happening. When Howard Tischler’s elderly mother was victimized by scammers, he decided to take action and reached out to Liz Loewy, who was running the Elder Abuse Prosecution Unit in New York City. Together the pair founded EverSafe, a fraud protection company focused on helping seniors. We spoke with Tischler about starting the business, and the pressing need to protect seniors from fraud.

Where did the inspiration for  your business come from?

EverSafe was started after my 80-year-old mother was exploited by telemarketers. She “agreed” to purchase auto club services when she was legally blind and didn’t own a driver’s license or a car. She was then targeted by a number of aggressive marketers. I reached out to Liz Loewy, who was Chief of the Elder Abuse Prosecution Unit in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. She educated me about the prevalence of elder fraud, identity theft, age-related financial issues, and the challenges financial institutions face in protecting seniors and their financial caregivers. As a veteran entrepreneur, my expertise in technology and business — plus Liz’s knowledge of elder financial exploitation — gave us a unique skillset to attack and resolve this growing crisis.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in starting your company?

One of our biggest challenges has been convincing seniors and caregivers that advance planning to protect your nest-egg can prevent heartbreaking loss in a crisis. People routinely insure their homes, their cars — even their lives. But while they worry about outliving their money, there are often no protections in place for guarding their hard-earned savings.

How is your business tackling this challenge?

We really focus on sharing information about the importance of advance planning and monitoring for fraud and identity theft across all your accounts and institutions. We also educate financial services professionals and others serving older adults on how to have the conversation with seniors and their families about the need to protect their assets.

What fintech innovations or developments are you most excited about?

It’s been really exciting to see that in the last three years, regulators — including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, State Securities Administrators and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission — have focused on initiatives specifically aimed at protecting vulnerable seniors.

What’s one thing you wish you’d known when you started your company?

We have learned that it’s a challenge to get financial institutions to move more quickly to attack what is clearly a devastating current issue. There needs to be more “walk” to back the “talk.” We all care about older folks, and almost everyone we speak to has a personal story about an older relative or friend who’s been a victim of fraud. But getting folks to take action and do something to prevent that from happening again is hard work. We also learned people don’t call you back quite as quickly when you work for a startup as they do when you run a unit in a New York City prosecutors’ office!

What’s the best business advice you’ve ever gotten?

Be a mentor, not a preacher. Help people discover the answer rather than giving them the answer.

What advice would you offer other business owners?

There is no blame or excuses in this world, just accountability and responsibility.

 

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