Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Watching out for Our Elders: Banks Man the Frontline of Defense against Elder Financial Abuse

Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Watching out for Our Elders: Banks Man the Frontline of Defense against Elder Financial Abuse

Article excerpt

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The population of Americans aged 65 and older is expected to rise sharply to more than 80 million people in 2050, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. It's no wonder that financial elder abuse is a critical issue for the banking industry.

Abuse can take many forms, including scams, identity theft, or misappropriation of income or funds. The elderly are particularly susceptible because they may be more trusting and predictable, and have physical/cognitive issues that impair understanding. They also have significant assets--70% of the nation's wealth.

In spotting and preventing such abuse, bankers are on the front lines because they are often the first to see irregularities or suspicious activity. To keep its member banks educated, ABA has made national training materials available. Its most recent effort, an online course, teaches bankers the signs of elder abuse and how to respond. The Elder Financial Abuse course is free to members enrolled in ABA's Frontline Compliance program.

"We've had more people sign up for that course than almost any other course we've offered," says Leslie Callaway, ABA Compliance project manager.

Each state passes its own legislation on elder abuse, and in states such as California, legislation has made it mandatory for financial institutions to report abuse.

But even banks in states without such laws are paying attention. "People want to do the right thing, and banks are really close to their customers," says Linda Navarro, president and CEO of the bankers association in Oregon, a state that led the charge against abuse with one of the first training programs for bank staff. …

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