It’s a heartbreaking and, unfortunately, common story: an elderly man receives a phone call from someone claiming to be his granddaughter asking for him to wire money to get her out of a sticky situation. A late night infomercial offers a deep discount on dishware without mentioning the hundreds of dollars in nonrefundable shipping fees.
These are the scams targeting the elderly that True Link Financial, a Y Combinator startup that launches today, is hoping to help families avoid by equipping prepaid Visa cards with personalized fraud protection.
CEO Kai Stinchcombe said he had been looking for a solution to this problem for a few years before founding True Link, after his 92-year-old grandmother began writing up to 75 checks a month for organizations posing as charities. Banks can’t do anything to reverse this kind of damage once the check is written and sent, he said. Families don’t have many options besides taking away their elderly family members’ checkbooks and depriving them of their sense of autonomy.
True Link develops risk profiles for elderly people, who are typically signed up by their adult family members. If an individual over-gives to charities, they can limit donations to a list of approved organizations while blocking payments to potential scams. Stipulations can be set on only allowing transactions made in person, and payments can be capped at a certain amount per purchase.
All this goes through a pre-paid True Link Visa card, filled through the person’s checking account, which is free for the first year and costs $20 annually after that. True Link acts as the preauthorizer, giving it the power to see incoming charges and approve or deny them accordingly.