The Financial Services Roundtable released its 2012 Fast Facts Book in September, which contains Fast Facts from January 2012 through July 2012. Fast Facts provides reliable, bullet-point research about issues facing the financial services industry. Below are a section of Fast Facts on preventing financial exploitation of the elderly.
By 2030, seniors will make up over one-sixth of the U.S. population. As our population grows older, it is essential to educate people about how to protect themselves from financial exploitation.
FACT: The annual financial loss for victims of elder abuse is around $2.9 billion, which is a 12% increase from 2008, according to a 2011 MetLife study of Elder Financial Abuse.
FACT: The elderly are a target for financial abuse because they may be more likely to depend on others for help, have predictable patterns, and have little understanding of modern management of finances. Additionally, they often have accumulated savings. Persons over the age of 50 control over 70% of the nation’s wealth, according to one survey.
FACT: Men and women of any race, economic level, or health status can become victims of elder financial abuse.
- Women are twice as likely to become victims
- Most victims are between the ages of 80 and 89
- Most victims live alone and require help with health issues and home maintenance
FACT: The most common perpetrators of financial abuse are family members, who commit nearly 75% of crimes.
FACT: Signs of exploitation of the elderly include: unpaid bills, changes in banks or attorneys, changes in spending patterns, missing property, unfamiliar signatures, and a lack of personal amenities.
FACT: Many Roundtable member companies are coordinating to protect elderly customers from financial abuse. Examples include:
- Capital One has partnered with the Consumer Action advocacy group to create MoneyWi$e. MoneyWi$e is a national personal financial education program offering free materials and community-based training opportunities on various topics including elder fraud, identity theft, and money management. In Canada, Capitol One partnered with SeniorBusters to raise awareness about the prevalence of elder abuse and fraud.
- City National Bank has published various materials regarding elder abuse. Such materials include a facts bulletin regarding the actions and consequences of elder abuse, examples of common identity theft methods, and what to look for when elder financial abuse is suspected.
- Comerica Bank provides publications on how to be aware of the signs of abuse and how the bank can help. They make an effort to partner with law enforcement to conduct community seminars open to all regarding various fraud topics. They have also created county taskforces to address the issues of elder abuse to provide a response plan for elder abuse and develop a network of contacts for the members.
- Fifth Third Bank conducts a program which informs and offers protection from elder financial abuse. Fifth Third works regularly to protect assets, prevent losses, and safeguard information through customer interaction. By getting to know their customers, they are able to watch out for unusual activities. They also pay close attention when seniors come into a banking center for service by observing if they have someone with them, noticing if they seem uneasy, and noting if the transaction is unusual in nature. They will then take immediate action to safeguard the customer.
- First Horizon is kicking off a program to prevent identity theft in their headquarters city of Memphis. In partnership with the Memphis Police Department, County Sheriff’s Office, and the District Attorney General’s Office, employees will make presentations at retirement communities and other groups regarding how to protect their finances. These presentations will also be made free to any organization interested in identity theft prevention.
- Regions Financial is providing communication and instructor led training to all associates focusing on elder financial abuse prevention. By September 30, 2012, every Regions associate will complete training on how to prevent, detect and report elder financial abuse. Regions has a long standing commitment to elder protection efforts. Since 2003, Regions has invested in the Senior Housing Crime Prevention Foundation, a nonprofit whose mission is to protect vulnerable seniors in housing facilities in various locations across our footprint and to provide ongoing crime prevention programs for senior housing residents.
- The Principal Financial Group has provided grants to support WesleyLife Community Services’ Money Management program since 2007. This no-cost program promotes independent living for low to moderate income older adults and persons with disabilities who are at risk of victimization because they cannot manage their own finances. WLCS-Money Management program curriculum was designed by AARP which provides training, evaluation and technical support. Nationally, this program helped 6,000 adults in 2010 with a 98% satisfaction with service rate.
- Wells Fargo has developed training and informational content for distribution. This includes periodic articles which are distributed via internal channels. Additionally, their Regulatory Affairs group has coordinated and hosted regional Elder Financial Abuse Symposiums in various cities around the country. This group will also conduct ongoing meetings with regulars such as FINRA, SEC and State, and is in regular contact with State APS.
For additional resources and examples of member programs, visit http://www.fsround.org/fsr/financial_literacy/financial_literacy_corner.asp.