In recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15, First Interstate Bank is helping stop financial abuse of elderly customers. Elder financial abuse is a crime that deprives senior citizens of their resources and independence. Financial exploitation of elders is a fast-growing form of abuse, and can involve trusted persons in the life of the vulnerable adult.
Senior citizens are targets for manipulation due to a number of factors. Persons over the age of 50 control 70% of the nation’s wealth, and often many elderly individuals have disabilities that make them dependent on others for help. Also, many seniors have predictable patters, such as receiving monthly checks or trips to the bank.
First Interstate employees are frequently trained to notice when a customer is vulnerable or a victim of financial abuse by paying attention to red flags, such as:
- Bank activity inconsistent with a person’s financial habits
- Changes to a person’s will
- Missing property
- Reluctance to discuss the situation
- Loss of primary residence
- Using ATM cards and taking advantage of joint bank accounts
- Scams targeted specifically towards elderly individuals, such as home repair, lottery/sweepstakes, fraudulent charities, or a scammer pretending to be a relative in need of funds
- New acquaintances expressing affection for or residing with an elderly person
It is important to recognize these red flags when determining if a senior citizen has been taken advantage of. By being proactive, steps can be taken to prevent financial fraud. Here are some simple tips to adhere to:
- Keep your personal information private, and never give out your social security number, bank account number, or personal information over the phone or internet unless you initiated the contact with a trusted source.
- Be diligent when reviewing your statements. Knowing where your money is going on a monthly basis can assist you in spotting unauthorized charges or strange activity.
- Shred old information. Before throwing away any statements, receipts, or credit card offers, be sure to shred anything that has your personal information on it.
- Check your credit report. Reviewing your credit report annually will help to ensure that no new credit cards or account have been fraudulently opened in your name.
If you or someone you know is a victim of financial mistreatment, report the abuse to the victim’s bank and enlist a banker’s help in stopping the abuse and preventing its recurrence. You may also contact Adult Protective Services or your local police to report any instances of elder abuse, financial or otherwise.